This winter has brought colder than average temperatures, with Massachusetts already experiencing several consecutive subzero days. National Grid recognizes that many customers are seeing higher gas and electric bills, largely due to increased usage. The company offers options for customers to manage gas and electric bills and reduce their overall energy use as the winter weather continues.
Reduce Energy Use
National Grid recommends the following tips to customers to help lower energy bills:
Lower your thermostat when you’re asleep or away. A 6-9 degree adjustment can save up to 10 percent.
Drop the temperature on your water heater. Set it to 120 degrees to save energy and prevent burns.
Clear areas in front of vents from furniture. Blocked vents require up to 25 percent more energy to distribute air.
Seal any air leaks. Caulk and add weather stripping around windows and doors.
Change the filter on your heating system regularly. A dirty filter will decrease air flow and energy efficiency.
Managing Higher Bills
National Grid also has programs and services that can help customers manage their energy bills including:
Balanced Billing Plan – Customers can avoid the highs and lows of seasonal billing by spreading projected energy costs into more predictable monthly payments.
Energy Efficiency Programs – A great way to save—not only this year, but in years to come—is to help make your home more efficient. Every year, National Grid works with homeowners, renters and landlords to find energy saving solutions for homes of all types and sizes. A way to get started is to reach out to MassSave. Home energy assessments are currently scheduling six to eight weeks out due to higher than average demand, so customers are encouraged to reserve their appointments now.
Bill Payment Assistance Programs – Some customers may also qualify for emergency government or non-profit funds to cover their energy bills. For more information on these funds, customers should call the New England Customer Contact Center at 1-800-322-3223 and speak to a customer service representative.
Understanding Higher Bills
Both gas and electric customers are noticing higher bills this season because of:
Higher Usage: Temperatures across Massachusetts have been 33 percent colder than average, according to NOAA daily weather data. Long stretches of below-freezing temperatures account for higher than average energy use both for electric and natural gas customers. This is the primary reason for any sharp increases in bills this cycle.
Higher Rates: Both electric and gas customers have seen higher rates reflected in their bills this season. Please note: Supply costs, which comprise approximately 40 percent of customers’ winter gas bills, and 50 percent of customers’ winter electric bills, are generally higher in the winter months. National Grid purchases supply on behalf of its customers and passes it along at cost.
Beginning in November 2017, total bills for typical Massachusetts residential electric customers increased about 15 percent over summer rates.
Though natural gas bills received to date reflect the same rates customers have been paying since November 2017, as of February 1, 2018, new gas supply rates will result in an estimated increase of approximately $20, or 12 percent, to the average monthly gas bill. These new gas supply rates are expected to remain in effect through April. National Grid has had to adjust gas supply rates because of the cold weather that has increased the demand for natural gas above forecasted amounts. The Department of Public Utilities approved this adjustment on January 31.
National Grid will continue to reach out to customers through bill inserts, social media, direct outreach and more to inform them that these energy cost management options are available. For more information, customers can visit ngrid.com/winterbills.