As reported by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in October, “Almost 90% of U.S. homes are heated primarily by Natural Gas and electricity. On average, we expect wholesale prices for natural gas to be higher this winter than last winter, leading to higher retail prices for both natural gas and electricity this winter. Natural gas is the most common fuel used to generate electricity in the United States.”
The EIA expects a national average of $6.34 per million British thermal units for natural gas for December 2022. They’re also forecasting natural gas prices to average $5.62 MMBtu for the first half of 2023.
You can compare these expected market prices to those from 2020 & 2021. In 2020 the average price for natural gas was $2.03 MMBtu and in 2021 the average price was $3.91 MMBtu. We are seeing a considerable increase in prices with little reprieve in sight for the time being.
Electricity prices are based on several different factors and can fluctuate from time to time if outside conditions change, such as fuel prices. As you can see above, natural gas prices have increased which in turn has caused higher costs for the generation of electricity. As a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative, we must rely on G&Ts (or generation and transmission cooperatives) to produce & purchase a diversified mix of electricity that we can purchase and distribute to our members. So, when fuel prices rise, it costs our G&Ts more to produce or purchase electricity, and those costs are passed through to Bowie-Cass and its members.
While we cannot control the market prices for natural gas and other generation fuels, we can help our members by offering ways to save on their electric bills and by providing energy-saving tips.
Levelized Billing- Levelized billing is a system that averages 12 months of your bills on a continual basis. This averaging helps smooth out the extreme seasonal variations, both highs, and lows, to produce a more levelized amount each month. This system does not produce a bill of the exact same amount each month. However, the amount from month to month should vary only slightly when compared to the normal seasonal fluctuations.
One of the benefits of the levelized billing program is that members are not forced to pay large bills during the air conditioning and heating seasons. These large bills are compensated for by slightly higher bills during the fall and spring months.
To be eligible for Levelized Billing you must have had service with the Cooperative for at least 12 consecutive months, and you must be willing and eligible to be set up on automatic bank draft.
PrePay- With PrePay, you have the flexibility of purchasing your electricity when you want, and in the amounts you choose. PrePay gives you the power to manage your electric payments as well as the power to monitor and control your usage. There is never a deposit or late fees. To get started with a PrePay account, there is a $15.00 application fee, a $15.00 connect fee, and a minimum of $50.00 usage credit required.
With PrePay, you will receive daily alerts and reminders via text message and/or email to keep you informed of your balance and usage. Member Services will need to set up your account in order for you to sign a PrePay agreement allowing the use of your cell phone number and email address. After getting your account set up, adding credit to your account is easy through the Mobile App, Member Portal, or other regular payment methods.
Bowie-Cass Mobile App- Available for both Android and iPhone Smart Phones, the "Bowie-Cass" mobile app is designed to give you fast and secure account access. With it, you can pay your bill, access account information, monitor your usage and billing history, and quickly report an outage.
Energy Saving Tips-
Make sure your thermostat is not set on Emergency Heat. It’s easy to flip the thermostat to the emergency setting by accident. This forces your system to run nonstop, wastes energy, and drives your bill sky-high.
If you own a heat pump, make sure your heat strips don’t get stuck in the “on” position following a cold snap. When heat strips remain on, rather than cycling on and off as needed, homeowners will notice a drastic increase in energy usage. Be sure to check them after every cold snap.
Space heaters are useful for providing a little extra heat as needed. But if you’re not careful, that small appliance can add up to a big electric bill. Try an electric blanket instead.
To reduce energy consumption in your home and increase your energy savings, you do not necessarily need to go out and purchase energy-efficient products. Energy conservation can be as simple as turning off lights or appliances when you do not need them. You can also use energy-intensive appliances less by performing household tasks manually, such as hang-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer, or washing dishes by hand.
The behavior adjustments that have the highest potential for utility savings are turning down the heat on your thermostat in the winter and using your air conditioner less in the summer. Heating and cooling costs constitute nearly half of an average home’s utility bills, so these reductions in the intensity and frequency of heating and cooling offer the greatest savings.
Should you ever have concerns about your electric bill, we encourage you to contact us at 903-846-2311.