Kansas electric cooperatives urge members to prepare for winter weather
The Energy Information Administration’s annual winter energy outlook predicts households across the country will spend more on energy between now and March 2022 compared with the past several winters because of higher fuel costs and increased demand, with a predicted slightly colder winter than last year.
What is driving these energy cost increases?
Lower fuel supplies and expectations of higher demand are driving the predicted cost increase. As economies begin to recover from COVID-19, a surge in demand for energy sources has pushed prices higher.
How much more will I be paying?
Increases in heating costs will vary. Fuel expenses for homes depend on the size and energy efficiency of the home and the type of heating equipment along with thermostat settings and weather conditions. The EIA report offered the following predictions:
- Electric heat — EIA predicts a 6 % cost increase. Retail electricity prices reflect the cost of providing the electricity, especially the cost of fuel for power generation and wholesale electricity prices.
- Natural gas — Households relying on natural gas for heating — about half of all Americans — be paying 30% more this winter.
- Heating oil — Households using heating oil can expect to spend 43% more this winter
- Propane — The EIA predicts this fuel to increase the most this winter at 54%.
What steps can I take to help keep my heating costs down?
Homeowners can help lower costs by better insulating their homes, such as using plastic sheeting over windows to reduce drafts, sealing space under doors with “door pillows” and sealing drafty windows and weatherproofing doors, Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. also suggests:
- Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees if your health permits. Resist the urge to crank up the thermostat as it’s unlikely to make much of difference except to put a strain on the furnace and your energy bill. Instead, wear an extra layer or use blankets to keep warm.
- Check and change furnace filters to ensure optimum airflow. Rule of thumb: change filter every 3 months; 2 months if you have pets or family members have allergies.
- Close furnace registers and doors to unoccupied rooms to keep occupied rooms warmer, which will help reduce consumption.
- Keep vents clear. High efficiency furnaces have vents leading outside. Make sure they are not blocked with ice or debris. Inside, make sure vents are not covered by rugs or furniture.
- Seal ducts around the joints to keep warm air from seeping out.
- Use ceiling fans to distribute warm air by reversing the fans so the blades turn clockwise during the winter.
- Let the sunshine in – use heat from the sun’s rays to help warm your home during the day time. Close blinds and curtains at night to provide another layer of insulation against the windows.
- Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
- Make microwave or toaster-oven friendly meals to save energy.
Consumers facing higher heating can find a list of utility and weatherization-related assistance programs by region/county through this website link: https://kcc.ks.gov/public-affairs-and-consumer-protection/utility-weatherization-related-assistance-programs
Source: Energy Information Administration. Figures for 2021-22 are forecast.