Winter is on the way. Just as the cold and flu season can challenge our immune systems, it can also be the time of year that creates the greatest financial strain on budgets and finances.

As we increase our use of natural gas this winter—from the furnaces that heat our homes to other appliance usages—the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that multiple factors have led to national natural gas price increases.* These include storms, fluctuations in imports/exports volumes, changes in natural gas inventory levels and other sudden changes in demand. 

These factors have caused widespread price fluctuations which could directly impact your gas bill and overall finances. 

Understanding how gas prices are set is helpful when managing your monthly budget.

The Complexity of Natural Gas Pricing

Many factors influence gas prices, but the most common are supply and demand, the price and availability of other fuels, weather variations and import/export volume. Like many energy sources, natural gas is generally subject to supply-and-demand forces. Market prices are higher this year based on the economic recovery from COVID-19, increased natural gas demand from last winter and slower-than-anticipated production.

Washington Gas does not profit from the sale of gas. This means that our customers pay the same price that we do for the purchase of natural gas. 

While these forces will affect this winter’s energy costs and may feel outside of your control, you do have powerful options to help manage your budget during the heating season. 

Energy Efficiency: A Smart Financial Strategy

When you winterize your furnace, complete an online home energy assessment or upgrade to high-efficiency appliances with rebates, you are making your home more energy efficient. From replacing water heaters to adding weather stripping, small changes go a long way toward lowering your energy bills. Learn more at https://wgsmartsavings.com/

Budget Plans: Distribute Heating Costs

With the Washington Gas Budget Plan, you pay the same amount every month. Because home and water heating can be the highest utility costs, a predictable monthly utility bill can help manage expenses with less stress. Enroll at https://www.washingtongas.com/budgetplan

Energy Assistance and Installment Plans: Relief for Challenging Times

You may qualify for energy assistance programs that help offset costs and provide relief for utility bills. If you are an energy assistance recipient, the Installment Plan may be right for you and help manage your bills through 12-month or 24-month payment plans. These programs are available throughout our service territory in Maryland, DC and Virginia and can help you through uncertain times. Visit https://www.washingtongascares.com/ and https://www.washingtongas.com/paymentplan to learn more.

As we adjust to the changing weather, Washington Gas is here to help. Here’s to your good health and a bright financial future!

*https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=53579

Wendy Zelond is a finance executive with over 20 years of experience in the energy, airline and public accounting sectors. She is currently the senior vice president of finance for the utilities segment of AltaGas, which includes Washington Gas, SEMCO and ENSTAR. She is a certified public accountant and holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

Throughout her career, Wendy’s passion for people has inspired her to develop teams and spaces where everyone can flourish. Her love for team building and encouraging others led to her first book, We Talk, We Lead: A Reflection of One Women’s Stories to Inspire and Empower Others. She is proud to sponsor employee resource groups and mentor others for success. Her experience has shaped her leadership approach, along with insights from her teams, continuous self-improvement and challenging her comfort zones.

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