Utilities News

Natural Gas Prices Spiked in December - Here's How to Save on Energy Costs

Natural Gas Prices Spiked in December - Here's How to Save on Energy Costs

The City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) purchases natural gas on the market, so fluctuations in market pricing can have an impact on residents and businesses with natural gas service. Natural gas prices spiked in December due to changes in the market supply and demand for natural gas. Though gas prices have returned to their usual winter levels, some customers may see higher than usual bills in January for gas used in December.  

Here are some tips to help keep your bill low, and some background on why gas prices may be higher than usual this winter.


About Natural Gas Use

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

For the most part, natural gas use is seasonal. In the winter, as outside temperatures drop and indoor heating needs rise, your natural gas use can increase significantly. Since gas prices are expected to be higher than usual this year, we encourage you to take steps to reduce your energy use to keep the costs on your utility bill low.

How to Save on Energy Costs this Winter At Home

Now is a great time to take action against high winter gas bills. Being sure your home has efficient insulation, weather-stripping and heating will make a big difference. You can also switch to solar water heating, and let free sunlight warm your water!

Visit our Utilities Resources webpage for a list of resources CPAU offers or call the Home Efficiency Genie to help you improve energy efficiency and keep utility costs low.

How to Improve Your Home Gas Efficiency:

  • Proper insulation is one of the most effective ways to both save energy and keep your home more comfortable. By adding attic insulation, you could receive rebates of up to 20 cents/sq. ft. from CPAU and 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. Also check ductwork to ensure there is proper airflow.
  • Lower the temperature on your programmable thermostat.
    • Winter daytime recommended temperature: 68°
  • Plug air leaks in windows, doors, around outlets and where plumbing enters your rooms.
  • Open your curtains to let daytime sunshine naturally warm your home and remember to shut them at night to keep the cold outside!
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater —every 10 degrees of reduction delivers 3 to 5% savings.
    • Recommended temperature: 120°

Ready to Save?

Take advantage of Smart Energy Rebates on efficiency appliances to cut your purchase costs and get your savings started sooner! 

Qualifying appliances:

  • Heat Pump Water Heater: $1500 rebate
  • Attic Insulation: $0.20 per sq. ft. rebate

Additional tips for conservation:

  • Take shorter showers to use less hot water
  • Use low-flow shower heads
  • Run full loads of dishes and clothes only

How to Save on Energy Costs this Winter At Work

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

Ready to Save?

Our Commercial Advantage Program can offset purchase costs for equipment upgrades and not only yield long-term savings, but also help improve the comfort of your building for tenants. Check out the entire portfolio of commercial rebates in our Commercial Advantage Rebate catalog.

Do you have a special project in mind? We offer custom rebates for demonstrated energy savings as well.

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 sq. ft. in size.

Why are Natural Gas Prices High this Winter?

Gas market prices have surged upward this December due to a number of factors:

  • A relatively early stretch of cold weather has driven up demand in the market.
  • Low levels of underground gas storage are constraining supply, both in general across the United States and in California.
  • In California specifically, some gas storage facilities are operating below capacity because of leak-related or maintenance issues and pipeline supply constraints.

Interested in learning more? Here are some resources:

Natural gas prices are on fire this month — here's why  - (CNBC)

Low US Storage Levels Point to Winter Natural Gas Price Spike Risk - (Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy)

Last Updated: December 13, 2018