Missouri may see lower heating bills

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COLUMBIA - While many people might have heard that natural gas price increases may cause higher heating bills this winter, major gas company Ameren Missouri said residents won't see much of a change this winter.

Some residents KOMU 8 News spoke with outlined some of the ways they plan on cutting some costs if prices do rise. 

"You're going to have to cut back. You're going to have to wear warmer clothes around the house, and your going to have to hope that you can touch it out," said Columbia resident Patrick Dell.

Other Columbia residents also said people need to realize the need to curtail energy consumption and take alternative measures to save dollars.

"I'd keep it down low. Instead of jacking up it to 75 or whatever I'll put a sweater on," said resident Michael Lee Robins.

Robin's also said that he's not surprised a lot of the older buildings in Columbia use more energy, causing an increase in costs.

But Ameren managers said Missourians don't need to worry because heating bills won't be changing much from last year. 

Ameren said it bought natural gas during the summer months when it was cheapest.

"We buy gas throughout the entire year. We were buying gas February,March,April, May through the summer months. So the rates our customers will see this winter will not reflect the larger increases," said Ameren Manager Mike Holman. 

According to natural gas price history, natural gas prices during June and July last year were around $2 per decatherm--a unit by which gas is bought and sold. During the winter months, prices go up to almost around $4 per decatherm. 

Holman said the average rate for customers now is 90 cents per unit of CCF, or 100 cubic feet of gas.

Holman says the reason natural gas costs more in the winter is because of higher demand. 

Even with the early cold weather, Ameren said that unless there is extreme weather, it doesn't expect to run low on natural gas anytime soon.

"We believe we have enough of the reserve that we wouldn't be faced in that situation," said Holman.

While Ameren said customers don't need to worry about higher than usual price increases, it does have a few savings tips.

  • Seal gaps around windows and doors to make the home weather tight
  • Keep the thermostat around 68 degrees, and lower it more when leaving the house
  • Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees

The US Department of Energy also offers a feature on its website that allows gas users to calculate how much energy they use.

Ameren officials said if the prices change, the company must file with state regulators by November 1 to increase prices.