Gas Prices are High This Winter-How to Keep Utility Costs Low

Published on November 16, 2022

Natural gas prices have increased over the past several months and have continued to be higher than usual due to changes in market supply and demand. Gas market prices can fluctuate greatly from month to month due to factors such as national weather, gas production, storage levels, as well as national and international trade and demand. The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) purchases gas from the market on a monthly basis, therefore fluctuations in pricing can affect customers. CPAU is trying to inform customers about these higher gas prices and share ideas for energy efficiency measures to keep utility costs down.  

View our webpage for some no-cost and low-cost ways to help keep your utility bill costs low.  

About Natural Gas Use

Natural gas is a fuel that is commonly used in homes and businesses for water heating, cooking and space heating. It can also serve as an alternative fuel source to gasoline for transportation and can be used to generate electricity in industrial and commercial processes. 

For the most part, natural gas use is seasonal in homes and businesses that rely on it for space  heating. In the winter, as outside temperatures drop and indoor heating needs rise, your energy use can increase significantly. 

How to Save on Energy Costs this Winter for your Home

Now is a great time to take action against high winter gas bills. Equipping your home with efficient insulation, weather-stripping and heating technologies will make a big difference. Here are some tips to improve  gas efficiency: 

  • Proper insulation is one of the most effective ways to both save energy and keep your indoor space more comfortable. By adding attic insulation, you could save up to 30% on heating and cooling on your energy bills year-round! 
  • Heating systems may need checkups and upgrades to run efficiently. Check your furnace filter and clean or replace it as necessary. Have your duct system professionally tested to measure leakage and evaluate the insulation. 
  • Lower the temperature on your programmable thermostat. Winter daytime recommended temperature is about 68°, depending on personal health and safety needs. 
  • Weather strip and caulk the seals around your doors and windows to eliminate drafts.  
  • Open your curtains to let daytime sunshine naturally warm your home and remember to close them at night to keep the cold outside! 

The City encourages the community to consider home electrification, by shifting away from carbon-based fuels to electricity for water heating. Electric heat pump water heaters powered by Palo Alto's 100% carbon neutral electricity have a zero-carbon footprint. It’s now even easier to switch to an electric heat pump water heater: get one installed for $2700 by a City of Palo Alto contractor for a standard installation or apply for a $2300 rebate to use your own contractor.  

Visit our Ways to Save webpage for a list of resources CPAU offers or call the Home Efficiency Genie at (650) 713-3411 who can help you identify additional ways to improve energy efficiency, including through a virtual or in-home assessment of your home's energy and water use. 

Using Less Hot Water to Save on Water Heating Costs

  • Take shorter showers to use less hot water.
  • Use high efficiency shower heads.
  • Run only full loads of dishes and clothes.

Utilities Financial Assistance

  • If you are on a limited income, experiencing financial hardship or have medical needs that increase your utility usage, you may be eligible for help on your utility bill costs with programs from CPAU.
  • Residents struggling to pay their utilities bills may qualify for our Rate Assistance Program, which provides a 25% discount on gas and electricity charges and a 20% discount on storm drain service fees. 
  • You may be able to reduce energy and water costs by having us help you improve your home's efficiency through the Residential Energy Assistance Program
  • You can equalize your monthly payment into twelve equal amounts by logging into your MyCPAU account. The steps are clearly visible on the Bill Payment Page
  • CPAU's ProjectPLEDGE may be able to help you with one-time assistance. Please call Utilities Customer Service at (650) 329-2161 to determine your eligibility.  

How to Save on Energy Costs this Winter for Businesses

Space heating and cooking account for the most natural gas use in many commercial facilities. CPAU offers a great variety of rebates and free services for upgrading equipment and appliances for energy efficiency.  

The Business Energy Advisor offers free consultation and on-site assessments to identify opportunities for your business to improve energy and water efficiency at your facility and save on your utility bill. To qualify, you must be a non-residential commercial customer with a facility smaller than 50,000 square feet. Give the Business Energy Advisor a call at (650) 761-6417 to learn how you can save.  

The Business Electrification Technical Assistance Program assists non-residential CPAU customers with conversion of gas equipment to efficient electric alternatives at their facility. By signing up, you will receive a free on-site assessment to identify electrification opportunities for your business, ongoing technical support, and assistance with applying for the Business Customer Rebates

The Business Advantage Program is designed to help customers save energy, money, and improve indoor air quality while recovering from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The Business Advantage Program offers a free Energy Management System (EMS) with “smart” thermostat, controller, zone temperature sensors, cloud-based energy management portal, and air filter for indoor air quality improvements. 

CPAU also offers a Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, which provides our commercial and industrial (C&I) customers with a free high-level assessment of their facility's energy usage and concrete recommendations for saving energy. This service is provided for business facilities larger than 50,000 square feet in size. 

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