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Lower natural gas costs by fixing small problems

Natural gas prices have risen sharply in the past year, but officials from the City of Thomson are suggesting ways that citizens can bring those costs down. But they said the time to act is now.

"Don't wait for winter prices to hit your doorstep, act now to reduce your costs for heating," stated Thomson Mayor Bob Knox in a press release. "As a consumer of energy, you can make a few changes that will help reduce the blow we all receive when gas prices are high."

The Department of Energy and the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia calculated figures for the cost of heating an average home recently. The cost of using both natural gas and propane has risen 30 percent over last year's numbers, and the cost of electricity has gone up 18 percent.

The City of Thomson purchases gas from the Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia and officials say they have taken steps to ensure there is a steady supply of gas at the lowest price.

"The Authority aggregates the natural gas supply needs of 73 member systems to negotiate volume pricing," Mayor Knox said in the release. "In addition, financial tools such as hedging to limit price swings and buys some natural gas supplies during warmer months when prices are traditionally lower."

Authorities suggested several things that gas customers can do to save some money on the heating bill:

  • Install a programmable setback thermostat to control heating costs. Lower the temperature setting at night and when no one is at home. Lowering the thermostat by 10 to 15 percent for 8 hours a day can save as much as 10 percent annually on home heating and cooling bills.

  • Check the furnace filter frequently and replace or clean it as needed. A dirty furnace filter can drive up the cost of heating.

  • Add a humidifier - either on the furnace or as a separate unit. It can help control heating costs, because moist air feels warmer.

  • Adjust register openings to keep various rooms at the desired temperature. Heat rises, so partially closing upstairs registers could make a difference.

  • Use draperies, blinds, curtains or shutters on all windows to slow the loss of heat through the glass. Keep window coverings open on sunny days to let in the sun's warmth.

  • Close them to insulate against colder air at night.

  • Rearrange furniture for winter, placing it next to inside, instead of outside walls and away from windows. Avoid blocking heating registers and air returns with furniture, draperies or carpet.

  • Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans sparingly in cold weather. In just one hour, these fans can blow away a houseful of warm air.

  • Make sure the mountings on ceiling fans are snug and tight. Use clear caulking to seal any leaks, as even minor cracks around the base can let in cold air.

  • Purchase some inexpensive, pre-cut insulation gaskets and seal out the cold air entering the home through electrical switches and outlet plates, particularly those on outside walls.

  • Closets and cabinets on outside walls can leak a great deal of cold air, so make sure the doors fit snugly and keep them tightly closed.

  • Consider a high efficiency natural gas furnace or water heating system. The money saved on monthly energy bill can offset the higher costs of a high efficiency natural gas furnace. According to the American Gas Association, the average home uses 22 percent less natural gas than it did in 1980 - in part because of more efficient appliances and tighter home construction.

    Residents who have additional questions about the operation of gas systems can contact Chuck Cason, Director of the City of Thomson Gas Department at 595-2175.



    Web posted on Thursday, October 6, 2005











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