MINNEAPOLIS – December 3, 2014 – CenterPoint Energy is seeing higher consumption of natural gas by customers as a result of the recent cold weather. Last month, temperatures were 20 percent colder than average in the Twin Cities and 10 percent colder in other parts of the state. As a result, CenterPoint Energy customers in Minnesota should expect higher bills for November usage due to increased heating needs.
“The Budget Plan is a great program for consumers who want more control over their monthly bill amount, especially for those on a fixed income. It’s free and easy to enroll,” said Mary Kane, account services program manager for CenterPoint Energy. “Customers can also reduce the amount of gas they use by following energy saving tips.”
The Budget Plan helps manage energy costs by balancing out payments throughout the year so customers pay less in the winter – helping avoid bill peaks. The program also offers bill predictability since customers will know their bill amount for six months at a time. Customers can sign up for the Budget Plan at CenterPointEnergy.com/MyAccount or by calling 1-800-245-2377 and following the automated prompts.
CenterPoint Energy also recommends the following energy saving tips:
Furnace: A furnace is the largest natural gas consumer, and typically makes up about 70 percent of your natural gas bill.
• Lower your thermostat to 68 degrees when you’re home and 65 degrees when you’re not. By lowering your thermostat 10 – 15 percent for eight hours a day, you can save up to 10 percent a year on your heating costs. Installing a programmable thermostat can help you automatically control your heat usage.
• Change your air filters monthly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can increase the operating cost of your furnace by as much as 10 percent. A good reminder is to change the filter each time you receive your natural gas bill.
Water heater: The water heater is the second-largest gas consuming appliance typically making up about 25 percent of your bill.
• Set the water heater temperature at 120 degrees and wrap any exposed water heater pipes and install a water heater insulator blanket around the tank. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees from 140 degrees and insulating your pipes and water heater can save you up to 15 percent on your water heating costs.
Make your home more airtight and keep cold air outside:
• Seal leaks around doors, windows and other openings such as pipes or ducts, with caulk or weather-stripping. The most common places where air escapes in homes are floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents, and electrical outlets.
• Consider adding more insulation in your attic.
• On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let the sun’s warmth in. Close them at night to insulate against the cold air outside.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and energy services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company also owns a 55.4 percent limited partner interest in Enable Midstream Partners, a publicly traded master limited partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp., which owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With more than 8,500 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 140 years. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.