ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — Heating and electric customers in Upstate and Western New York are in for a noticeable jump in their energy bills, according to a leading research agency in the state.
The New York Independent System Operator laid out various factors contributing to this.
The same factors which have caused prices of other essentials to spike are likely to impact electricity and natural gas bills as demand goes up this winter, according to the New York ISO. With supply not meeting demand, international conflicts have trickle-down effects.
Research from the New York ISO shows unpredictable and rapid changes to the national and global fossil fuel markets that could contribute to Western and Upstate New Yorkers paying as much as 39% more on their energy bills this winter.
“That translates to about $50 per month compared to last year,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said while promoting a bill to lower energy costs for low-income households.
One factor causing energy prices to spike is demand for natural gas consumption back on the rise following the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when investors were pulling back on expanding energy supplies and building up facilities, according to New York ISO.
“A lot of the shipping lanes have been clogged and a lot of deliveries haven’t been made when items arrive at ports,” Sen. Gillibrand added. “That will also impact a lot of oil shipments, natural gas shipments, and natural gas pipelines.”
Sen. Gillibrand also blames the War in Ukraine for the energy bill price hike. Since the Trump Administration made it easier to export natural gas to markets overseas, it caused U.S prices to be tied closer to global markets. Creating more pressure on natural gas prices trickling down to electric generators they power.
“Some oil-producing countries have used this opportunity to price gouge,” Sen. Gillibrand said. “And in other instances, the supply chain is an issue.”
With no set timeframe on how long customers can expect to receive more expensive energy bills, experts like Jason Squillante with John Betlem Heating and Cooling advise property owners to prep their homes by strengthening their installation and conserving energy.
“After a big snowfall if there’s no snow left on that roof then heat is escaping out of there,” Squillante said. “So, insulating the home is one of the steps that we want to take saving people money. High-efficiency equipment whether it’s heat pumps or natural gas high-efficiency furnaces.”
Other factors the New York Independent System Operator found contributing to higher prices include Wholesale Electricity Markets in the state, and New York’s goal to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy by 2040.
There are numerous ways to cut your usage of energy, even in the colder months of the year. RG&E also released tips you can use to save money on energy bills. See below.
Turn down the temperature
Set your thermostat as low as comfort permits — each degree lowered can save an average of 3% on your heating bill. Save even more energy by lowering your thermostat at night while you and your family sleep. If you own a smart programmable thermostat, make the most of its ability to automatically turn down the temperature to save energy during periods when sections of your home are unoccupied. If you don’t already own one, consider installing a programmable or smart thermostat this season.
Change filters regularly
Whether you use a furnace or a heat pump to keep your home warm, check and clean or replace filters periodically. Dirty filters make your home heating system work harder, expending more energy.
Additionally, it’s important to have your heating systems inspected and tuned up annually by a professional — inefficient heating systems can increase fuel consumption.
Seal your ductwork
Houses with forced-air heating systems use ducts to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, approximately 20% of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. This can result in higher energy use. Typically, leaks can be repaired easily and inexpensively with duct tape or can be professionally sealed to more effectively eliminate leaks.
Insulate your attic
One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic. Homes heated by natural gas and oil should have at least six inches (R-19) and for homes heated by electricity, you should have at least 12 inches (R-36).
The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating costs by adding insulation in attics, crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.
Take advantage of available resources
Whether you own or rent your home, there are many resources available to manage your energy savings. Take advantage of energy-saving programs, rebates, and incentives to make your home more energy efficient. RG&E has energy tips, resources, and programs available for residential and business customers on our website at rge.com.