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Sign outside San Diego Gas & Electric building
A sign outside a San Diego Gas & Electric building. Courtesy of the company

San Diego Gas & Electric offered cost-saving tips to customers Tuesday, noting that wholesale natural gas prices have increased 19% over the past month and are likely to increase again in January.

SDG&E is sending direct emails to customers this week so they can plan accordingly as all utility costs rise.

“SDG&E remains committed to working with our customers as prices for a variety of goods and services, including natural gas, continue to surge across the nation,” said Dana Golan, SDG&E vice president of customer services. “It’s important that we help customers prepare as much as possible for colder weather and higher winter energy bills and that we provide access to financial assistance.”

The utility cited a recent report from National Gas Intelligence describing a “perfect storm” of frigid temperatures across the West, low storage inventories, and other factors impacting supply and demand to push wholesale natural gas prices to “historically high” levels.

According to SDG&E, the cost the utility pays to buy natural gas in the wholesale market on behalf of its customers is a direct passthrough, with no profit margin — “meaning that if SDG&E pays $1 for natural gas in the commodity market, that’s what SDG&E customers pay.”

Between November and December, the residential natural gas rate jumped by 19% because the commodity price for natural gas went up significantly, according to the utility. Based on the latest market dynamics, SDG&E forecasts indicate that prices could go even higher into January when the weather in the region is typically the coldest, and gas usage is generally the highest, potentially putting more upward pressure on customers’ bills.

Some tips to reduce costs include:

— Using caulk and weather-strip around drafty doors and windows, using a door sweep, door sock or towel at the bottom of doors with a gap;

— Checking furnace filters once a month and replace them regularly. A dirty air filter can increase your energy costs and cause problems with your equipment;

— Using warm water instead of hot water to cut a washing machine’s energy use in half; using cold water will save even more; and

— Lowering the thermostat water heaters to 120 degrees, if possible.

Customers can visit sdge.com/MyEnergy for bill-saving and energy management resources.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

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Ellen Bullock