COLLINSVILLE – While Illinois has mostly avoided the cool temperatures that typically accompany this time of year, Ameren Illinois will be prepared when ‘Old Man Winter’ finally hits.
Ameren Illinois leaders recenlty joined the state’s other natural gas utilities at the Illinois Commerce Commission’s annual policy session on winter preparedness. Representatives presented information on what each company is doing to prepare for winter and the expected increase in natural gas use.
With approximately 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas available, Ameren Illinois reported that it has adequate supply to accommodate peak demand. The company also expects natural gas supply prices to hold steady.
Based on current market prices, Ameren Illinois customers will pay $0.44 per therm during the 2016-17 heating season, the same price as the 2015-16 heating season. Since the 2015-16 winter weather was 20 percent warmer than normal, Ameren Illinois customers may see an increase in their winter heating bills if colder temperatures return and energy usage increases.
Natural gas, including the cost of interstate gas transportation, leased storage, and the commodity itself, makes up a large portion of a customer’s monthly heating bill. Ameren Illinois takes steps to keep prices as low as possible for customers by purchasing natural gas in the summer when prices are lower, storing it in underground reservoirs, and then delivering it for customers to use in the winter months.
“While a customer’s total bill amount will depend on a variety of factors, including temperatures outside and the actual amount of energy a customer uses, we’re pleased that our price hedging and storage strategies continue to make it possible for Ameren Illinois’ natural gas prices to remain among the lowest in the country,” said Ken Dothage, Ameren Illinois gas supply director.
Ameren Illinois customers can further reduce their heating bills by implementing energy saving strategies:
• Keep your thermostat at 68 degrees or lower this winter. You save about 3 percent on your heating costs for each degree you are able to lower your thermostat.
• Use a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature of your home according to your family’s schedule – lowering the temperature when you’re sleeping or away and raising the temperature only when needed.
• Set the temperature of your hot water heater to 120 degrees for safety and energy savings. Lowering the setting of your water heater thermostat can save approximately 3 to 5 percent in energy costs.
• Only heat the rooms you need to heat by closing vents and doors to unused rooms.
• Adequately insulate your home, which can reduce your energy usage by up to 30 percent. In the Midwest, experts recommend having 9 to 15 inches of insulation in your attic.
• Keep drapes and furniture from blocking air vents.
• Use weather stripping and caulk to reduce air leaks. Pay special attention to walls, ceilings, windows, and vents in your basement. Air leaks in the basement are less noticeable but cost you money.
• During the winter, you want your ceiling fans to move warm air away from the ceiling and down to the floor, so your fan needs to run at a low speed in a clockwise direction (as you look up at it). The room will be more comfortable and heating costs will be lowered. It costs only $2 a month to use ceiling and other fans to circulate air.