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CenterPoint Energy passes on lower wholesale natural gas prices to south Louisiana customers
November bill should be about 15% lower on average than last year depending on customer usage

HOUSTON – November 11, 2009 - CenterPoint Energy is passing on lower wholesale natural gas prices to customers in south Louisiana. Through the Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA), an allowed adjustment to the gas supply charge portion of a customer bill, CenterPoint Energy passes on the cost of natural gas with no markup. The GCA typically makes up 60-70 percent of a customer bill.

With this lower GCA, an average residential bill in south Louisiana will be $31.22 this month. A bill for the same usage last November was $36.80, excluding taxes. This represents about a 15 percent decrease. The actual decrease will vary depending on the amount of natural gas used.
 
“We are happy to be able to pass this natural gas price decrease on to customers going into the winter heating season since natural gas usage typically increases due to heating needs,” said Rick Tarver, District Director of Gas Operations in south Louisiana.

By following some simple energy savings tips, customers can have even lower natural gas bills this winter.

Furnace: A furnace is the largest natural gas consumer, and makes up about 47 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. Add on extra layers of clothing to keep warm.
• 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 making up about 43 percent of your bill.

• Set the water heater temperature at 120 degrees and wrap water heater pipes. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees from 140 degrees and insulating your pipes can save you up to 10 percent on your water heating costs.

Other appliances: Although they consume less natural gas, you can still maximize their efficiency.

• Run your washing machine, dish washer and gas dryer only with full loads.

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.
• If it has been a while, 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.

Customers can also enroll in Average Monthly Billing to spread their heating costs more evenly throughout the year and avoid high winter bill peaks. Customers can learn more ways to lower their gas consumption at CenterPointEnergy.com/readyforwinter.