Energy bills expected to be lower this winter

WASHINGTON — Warming a home can drain the wallet, but if Mother Nature
plays nice this year, the D.C. region is on track for a pleasant surprise.

“We’re in the best of times when it comes to energy,” says Phil Flynn, the
senior market analyst for PRICE Futures

Many homes in the D.C. area are heated with natural gas or heating oil, and
both products are having a great year, says Flynn.

This summer, Flynn says, the United States produced a record amount of natural
gas and also placed a record number of natural gas in storage. And heating oil
prices are the cheapest in two years because of a “shale gas
revolution,” according to Flynn.

Washington Gas says customers can expect prices to be 10 to 20 percent lower

“Washington Gas’ natural gas purchasing strategy continues to keep the
company well positioned to take advantage of market development,” Washington
Gas President Adrian Chapman said in statement.

The forecast does hinge on one entity, though — Mother Nature.

Despite unseasonably cool temperatures in November, Flynn says, everyone is in
good shape so far. But if the cold weather keeps up and there’s another polar
or two, “some of the more rosy forecasts on heating bills are going not be so
rosy,” Flynn says.

That aside, Flynn is optimistic because, he says, the long-term outlook for
and gas is better than it has been in many years.

No matter what happens, here are some tips to keep heating bills down:

  • Insulation: Make sure your home is properly insulated so the cold
    air stays out and the warm air stays in.

  • Check for drafts: The warmth can seep out of drafty doors,
    windows, electrical outlets or vents that go outside. Light a candle and hold
    it two inches from doors and windows. If the flame bends, a breeze is making
    its way
    in. A tube of caulk may be all you need to fix the problem.

  • Know two temperatures: Consumer Reports says you can save if
    the temperatures of occupied rooms stay around 70 degrees. All others should
    be set at 68 degrees.

  • Check filters: Clean or replace your air and furnace filters so
    equipment can work as efficiently as possible.

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