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Natural gas prices historically high, energy bills this winter will increase dramatically

A lower-carbon natural gas flame burns on a stovetop at a NW Natural testing facility.
A lower-carbon natural gas flame burns on a stovetop at a NW Natural testing facility.

It may still feel like summer, but it's never too soon to prepare for winter. Especially since natural gas prices are up almost 60% from last year.

Effective November 1, Delmarva Power is increasing the price of gas almost 50%, amounting to more than $25 a month for a typical resident.

Public Service Commission Executive Director Matt Hartigan says supply has not caught up with demand since the COVID-19 pandemic drove gas prices to a new low. Coupled with an energy crisis in Europe and the conflict in Ukraine, natural gas is needed everywhere, including in 42% of Delaware consumers’ homes.

“This is historically high I would say," Hartigan says. "But during COVID, prices were historically low. So we were getting the benefit then. So we do think at some time probably, maybe mid to late next year, prices should begin to decrease.”

The easiest way to save money on heat this winter is to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater. But there are other measures and programs for Delawareans.

Hartigan says a proper insulation home is the most important factor to effectively heat a home.

“Change your furnace filter, insulate around doors and windows," Hartigan says. "And then there's also other programs that either state agencies or NGOs offer. DNREC has some weatherization programs that can help people insulate. Also, the Sustainable Energy Utility has grants that customers can apply for either for more efficient appliances or home energy audits that would help them identify where they need to approve.”

Other tips from Hartigan include opening shades on sunny days, and closing vents and doors of unoccupied areas.

Low-income Delawareans needing financial assistance to pay their home energy bills may be eligible for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program through the Delaware Division of State Service Centers.

Delawareans can contact Energize Delaware about its Home Performance with Energy Star, Home Energy Counseling and Check-Up programs.

Rachel Sawicki is Delaware Public Media's New Castle County Reporter. They are non-binary and use they/them pronouns.