(NEW YORK) — As Americans continue to cook, do laundry and use more electricity at home amid the pandemic, utility bill prices are predicted to rise this winter.
Ken Gurny, a homeowner in New York told Good Morning America their family has tried to conserve energy since the pandemic sent their utility bill sky high.
But even as residents work to lower electricity consumption, the cost to heat homes is going up.
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association predicts gas bills in the U.S. could rise up to 30% this winter.
“Going forward this year, there are no signs of these prices coming down,” executive director Mark Wolfe told GMA.
The Natural Gas Association of America told GMA in a statement that while it does not expect shortages, “natural gas market prices are higher due to the economic recovery, strong natural gas demand from last winter, and slower than anticipated production.”
From January to March last winter, the Gurney family said they paid roughly $2,300 to heat their home which means this year, that number could go up by $700 for a total of $3,000 in the same time period.
Beyond putting on a sweater inside and lowering the thermostat, there are other savings strategies to consider.
A smart thermostat like the Nest lets people program a lowered temperature at specific times of day via a smartphone app. The company estimates it saves users 10-12% on heating costs each year.
Amazon has entered the market with its Alexa-compatible smart thermostat due on the market in November.
The U.S. Energy Department suggests a simpler fix: Swap out an old, dirty filter on the furnace to save between 5 to 15% on a heating bill.
The Natural Gas Association suggests: “if customers have trouble paying their natural gas bills, there are programs that can help.”
Wolfe said the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a “federal program that helps people pay their energy bills, they have enough money to do so — but it’s not just for poor people, a family can have to $40,000 a year and still qualify.”
Additionally, experts suggest heat loss can be prevented by checking for cold spots with a thermal gun. Point the device at the ceiling, wall and doors to see where weatherstripping could help, replace insulation or patch up cracks.
More heating and cooling units will also run off electricity rather than gas or oil, providing greater energy efficiency and serving as better options for the environment.
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