Santa Paula Times

The Gas Company says customer demand up due to cold weather; offers conservation tips

January 24, 2007
Santa Paula News

Record low temperatures throughout the region have resulted in increased use of home furnaces to stay warm.

Record low temperatures throughout the region have resulted in increased use of home furnaces to stay warm. Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) officials remind customers they may see higher gas bills as a result.“Because of the colder-than-normal weather over the past few days, customer demand for natural gas is forecast to increase by 22 percent in January over the same period last year,” said Michelle Mueller, vice president of customer services for The Gas Company. “While usage is up due to the cold weather, natural gas prices this winter are 40 percent less than they were last year at this time. So, while bills likely will rise as a result of usage, the increase will be mitigated by the reduced cost of natural gas.”The Gas Company reports that its residential and small business customers used an average 2.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day over the three-day holiday weekend, as compared with 1.8 billion cubic feet per day last year for the same period - an increase of 60 percent. The increase of 1.1 billion cubic feet per day is enough energy to heat 18,000 homes for a year, according to the utility.The Gas Company offers customers these tips to help manage their winter gas bills:• When using the home furnace, lower the thermostat 3 degrees to 5 degrees (health permitting) and turn it off when not at home. This can help save up to 20 percent on heating costs.• Up to 40 percent of a home’s heat loss takes place due to inadequate attic and wall insulation. Upgrade insulation to save up to 25 percent on heating costs.• Have air ducts tested for leaks. Seal any leaks and save up to 20 percent on winter heating costs.• Check the furnace filter monthly and clean or replace it, per manufacturer’s recommendations, to save up to 2 percent on heating costs.
• Caulk and weather-strip drafty doors and windows to save up to 5 percent on heating costs.• Use an extra blanket and turn down the furnace thermostat at night as the weather turns cooler.• Use cold or cool water when washing clothes to save up to 10 percent on hot water costs.• Run the dishwasher only when full.For eligible customers with limited income, The Gas Company offers a 20-percent rate discount on monthly gas bills through the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) program, free energy-saving home improvements, including repair or replacement of qualifying home furnaces, through the Direct Assistance Program (DAP), and a one-time grant amount of up to $100 per customer through the Gas Assistance Fund.For more information, visit The Gas Company’s Web site at, or call The Gas Company toll-free at (800) 427-2200.The Gas Company is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, providing safe and reliable energy to 19.8 million consumers through 5.6 million meters. The company’s service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in most of central and Southern California. The Gas Company strives to provide exceptional customer service to enhance the quality of life in the community. The Gas Company is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). Sempra Energy, based in San Diego, is a Fortune 500 energy services company.