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Home heating bills on the rise for Hoosiers

'It really is being driven on the demand side'
HEAT BILL HIKE
Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 22:47:43-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers can expect higher heating bills this winter. An economist at IUPUI said it's simply thanks to the law of supply and demand.

"It is being driven on the demand side and part of it is we think last year during COVID-19, everyone still had to keep their houses warm, but there was less demand on the commercial side and so that’s picked back up as economic activity has picked back up,” Kyle Anderson, with IUPUI’s Kelley School of Business said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, also known as EIA, estimates a 30% increase in natural gas bills, a 54% increase in propane bills, and a 6% increase in electricity bills over last year. These estimates will fluctuate depending on the actual temperatures outside.

“That’s based on two factors: One is natural gas prices are higher and the cost of electricity is a little bit higher. Also, and this is where it gets maybe even a little bit iffy, but we’re seeing the forecast for a little bit colder of a winter,” Anderson said.

Citizens Energy Group said customer bills will increase about $10 a month.

“This winter we are seeing higher prices. It’s not because there is a shortage of prices...it’s really because there’s just higher demand,” Citizens Energy Group spokesperson, Daniel Considine said.

Considine added the price increase is lower than most energy providers across the country, thanks to mitigation efforts by Citizens, which includes buying early and storing natural gas locally.

“Don’t worry about the national headlines, at least here in Indianapolis," Considine said. "It looks like our bills are going to be pretty manageable for the coming winter."

The company said right now it has the lowest average annual gas bill in the state.

“All we can do is forecast what we’re seeing for our particular customers. There are parts of the country right now including other parts of Indiana forecasting much larger increases,” Considine said.

Matt Tyner with Williams Comfort Air says the company has started the busy winter season as the temperatures begin to drop in central Indiana.

“Most consumers are cognizant of what their bills are monthly, so we want to do what we can to help lower them as much as possible,” Tyner said.

With looming price hikes, he said the best thing to do right now is to be proactive.

“Whether it be with the preventative maintenance or if they’re looking at having a new system installed, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later when everyone else is in the same boat,” Tyner added.

Other expert tips include:

  • Leave the blinds or window treatments up to let in sunlight.
  • Change out furnace filters.
  • Make sure nothing blocks vents.
  • Lower the thermostat temperature when not home or asleep.

For those in need of help paying energy bills, it’s recommended to contact your current providers to learn more about payment plans. The state is also offering an energy assistance program, which is accepting online and mail-in applications for 2022. Click here for more information.

Hoosiers can also call the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority at 1-800-872-0371.

AES Indiana provided WRTV with the following statement:

The increase in natural gas consumption for electric power production and other sectors and increased market pricing is expected to impact utility bills this winter.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts U.S. households will spend 54% more for propane, 43% more for heating oil, 30% more for natural gas, and 6% more for electric heating.

It’s important for customers to understand how they are using energy and how this use can affect their bills. AES Indiana offers several ways for our customers to save:

  • In-home energy assessments and energy savings kits
  • Winter weatherization upgrades: insulation or air sealing
  • Cash rebates and incentives: lighting, smart thermostats, appliance pick-up, and recycling

At AES Indiana, we understand that high winter bills can be a financial challenge for our customers, which is why we offer billing and payment resources for those who need additional support:
  • Budget Billing
  • Payment Extensions
  • Preferred Bill Date
  • Winter Energy Assistance Program
  • Power of Change
If customers have questions or concerns about their bills, we encourage them to contact AES Indiana for support by calling 317.261.8222.

Natural gas charges are a pass-through expense, a regulated cost of operating a power plant to create electricity that AES Indiana is authorized to collect. AES Indiana is committed to serving customers at the lowest fuel cost reasonably possible.

In the past few years, AES Indiana has worked to cost-effectively diversify its generation portfolio and transition to both cleaner and affordable resources while maintaining a reliable system.