MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - After one of the warmest Decembers on record in the Twin Cities, Minnesotans may like what they see when their utility bills arrive.
A spokesperson for Xcel Energy said heating bills in Minnesota have been lower because of the above-average temperatures. Also, because wholesale natural gas prices are significantly lower now than last winter, the company had estimated that the average Minnesota customer would see their bill decrease about 15% this year. The average bill would be $127.53, down from $149.49, or an average of $22. That figure doesn't even account for how warm December has been.
FOX 9 also spoke with Joshua Solis, lead communications specialist from CenterPoint Energy, Minnesota's largest natural gas utility. He does want to caution customers that it is still early in the heating season.
"With the warmer temperatures, customers have not necessarily needed to use as much gas earlier this season," Solis said. "I think our overarching thing we want to remind customers of is that there are colder days ahead and the temperatures are going to drop."
When the temperatures do start to drop, here are a few tips to save money, according to Xcel Energy:
- Keep the blinds open during the day to let the sunlight in, and keep them closed at night to keep the cold air out.
- During winter months, set the thermostat between 65-70 degrees while you're home, and 58 degrees when you're away. A programmable thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature based on your routine and could help you save on heating costs.
- Run ceiling fans clockwise.
- Avoid opening the oven while cooking to keep the heat inside.
- Make sure exterior doors are fully closed.
- Keep furnace filters clean because dirty furnace filters reduce airflow, requiring the furnace to work harder and use more energy. Change the filter once a month during the winter to reduce your heating costs by between 5-15%.
- Don't let the heat escape: Affordable window sealing kits can be found in most local home improvement stores.
- Improve the insulation of walls, crawl spaces, floors and heating ducts in a home.
- Lower the water heater's temperature or insulate it: The proper temperature for a water heater is 120 degrees, and by lowering it 10 degrees, a household can save between 3-5% on water heating costs. It can also be insulated to maximize efficiency.