November has started on an unexpectedly warm note, providing a nice but temporary reprieve for homeowners, who are enduring rising energy costs this fall and winter.
National Grid anticipates one of the highest increases to winter heating bills in more than a decade.
Looking at his latest gas and electric bill, homeowner Joe Weber is certainly feeling the chill.
"From last year to this year, we're looking at the range of 10-15% increase," said Weber.
What You Need To Know
- The increase in winter season bills is being driven by natural gas and electricity market supply costs
- Residential natural gas customers are forecasted to pay about $263 more than last winter
- Electricity residential customers can expect to pay 22% more than last season
Residential natural gas customers are forecasted to pay about $263 more than last winter, according to National Grid. That's a 39% increase. Electricity residential customers can expect to pay 22% more than last season.
"It's a very big deal because today we are looking at high inflation, high gas prices, high food prices, so you add that extra component into the mix and it just exacerbates the problem," said Weber.
The New York Department of Public Service attributes the increase to market supply costs, and that goes for natural gas, heating oil and propane. But customers shouldn't completely sacrifice comfort to save energy, according to Courtney Moriarta. She works for NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.
"Know that the resources are out there, that there are incentives available to help you offset the cost. There's also the low-interest financing that's available if you do need to pay something out of pocket, and a home energy assessment is really great first step in understanding what's happening in your home today," said Moriarta.
All New York residents are eligible for NYSERDA's free energy assessment, a top-to-bottom look at where your home is wasting energy.
"They're going to help you understand how your home operates a little better and tell you what's working and how you can make improvements as well," said Moriarta.
There's things you can do on your own, too. Properly sealing your house can save around 15%.
"One of the ways you can do that is to make sure you put rope caulk along the gaps in the window," said Peter Hoffman, National Grid energy efficiency specialist. Turning the thermostat down by one degree will save you between 1-3% on annual heating bills. Hoffman said water heaters tend to be set higher than necessary.
"Frequently, they are set to very hot," said Hoffman. "You can bring it down to B and be very comfortable and very safe."
For those struggling to cover their bill, check with your utility company. Consumer advocates can connect you with grants and set up a payment plan.
"We want your service to be on. We want you to feel comfortable. We can educate you on the grants and go forward," said Anne O’Connell, National Grid consumer advocate.
To connect with NYSERDA about its free energy audit, click here.