Archive for Thursday, October 13, 2005

Prepare now to avoid worst of winter gas bills

October 13, 2005

Fall is such a transitory time. For perhaps three weekends in October, the weather mellows to near perfection and the foliage puts on a breathtaking display. Soon the weather will cool to a daylong sting and the colorful leaves will crunch under our feet.

This year, those few weekends are even more precious. Perhaps the best investment of time natural gas customers can make with those weekends is weatherizing residences for winter.

Natural gas prices are going to be 35 to 55 percent higher than they were last year. The first true winter gas bills will show up just as budgets have been stressed by Christmas shopping.

The situation has certainly caught the attention of gas utility officials, who know this is going to be a challenging year for many customers.

Those officials are already pointing customers toward agencies that could help them with bills. It is easy to predict those agencies are going to be swamped and many of those looking there for assistance will be disappointed.

Again, we would suggest the place to start is with individual initiative. Measures as simple as changing furnace filters or caulking windows could pay off big. We would suggest a thorough inventory of home, apartment or business should be on everybody's to-do list in the coming month.

Moreover, an awareness that high gas bills are coming could forestall excessive holiday spending. Do the math upfront. What does a 50-percent increase in last winter's bill mean?

We would suggest youth groups and school community service efforts looking for worthy projects should consider helping winterize the residences of seniors. We fear the choices seniors -- typically conscientious about paying bills in full and on time -- could face this winter.

It is a prospect that requires we all step up. In addition to looking after our own, we can be on the lookout for what we can do for others. Again, small tasks can make a big difference.

Fall is such a transitory time. For perhaps three weekends in October, the weather mellows to near perfection and the foliage puts on a breathtaking display. Soon the weather will cool to a daylong sting and the colorful leaves will crunch under our feet.

This year, those few weekends are even more precious. Perhaps the best investment of time natural gas customers can make with those weekends is weatherizing residences for winter.

Natural gas prices are going to be 35 to 55 percent higher than they were last year. The first true winter gas bills will show up just as budgets have been stressed by Christmas shopping.

The situation has certainly caught the attention of gas utility officials, who know this is going to be a challenging year for many customers.

Those officials are already pointing customers toward agencies that could help them with bills. It is easy to predict those agencies are going to be swamped and many of those looking there for assistance will be disappointed.

Again, we would suggest the place to start is with individual initiative. Measures as simple as changing furnace filters or caulking windows could pay off big. We would suggest a thorough inventory of home, apartment or business should be on everybody's to-do list in the coming month.

Moreover, an awareness that high gas bills are coming could forestall excessive holiday spending. Do the math upfront. What does a 50-percent increase in last winter's bill mean?

We would suggest youth groups and school community service efforts looking for worthy projects should consider helping winterize the residences of seniors. We fear the choices seniors -- typically conscientious about paying bills in full and on time -- could face this winter.

It is a prospect that requires we all step up. In addition to looking after our own, we can be on the lookout for what we can do for others. Again, small tasks can make a big difference.

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