Xcel Energy warns about rising wholesale natural gas prices during winter weather blast

With the Midwest and beyond in the grips of a blast of polar air, which is sending windchill temperatures well below zero this week in Minnesota, Xcel Energy is warning customers about natural gas prices that are creeping up.

In a message on Wednesday, Xcel says wholesale natural gas prices have been on the rise over recent days, caused by the increase in demand across the United States.

With increased prices, Xcel officials say customers may want to consider taking steps to lower natural gas consumption.

"With the increased cost of natural gas, customers may want to consider conserving natural gas for the next few days, because the wholesale cost is passed on directly to customers,' Xcel's message reads. "For additional context, while wholesale natural gas prices have increased as a result of supply and demand in this cold weather, at this time, the increase in price is significantly smaller than the increase experienced two years ago during Winter Storm Uri."

You may remember, that storm brought unusually cold weather to Texas, which had a ripple effect across the country on natural gas prices.

In a news release, Xcel included tips for customers to save some cash:

  • Lower your thermostat - 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.   
  • Let the sunlight in and keep the cold out - Open blinds to take advantage of the sun's warmth during the day but close them at night to insulate against the cold air outside.  
  • Make sure exterior doors are fully closed - A major source of a home’s heat loss is from exterior doors that are left cracked open or not latched.   
  • Use fans to your advantage - During colder months, run ceiling fans clockwise, so the warm air near the ceiling is forced down.  
  • Keep your oven's heat where it belongs - Use your oven light or timer to avoid opening it often while you cook; each time the door is opened even for just a few seconds, the temperature drops 25 degrees. 
  • Lower your water heater's temperature or insulate it - The proper temperature for a water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. By lowering it 10 degrees, you can save 3-5% on your water heating costs; you can also insulate it to maximize efficiency.  
  • Keep filters clean - Dirty furnace filters reduce airflow, requiring your furnace to work harder and use more energy. Change the filter once a month during the winter to reduce your heating costs by 5-15%.   
  • Don't let the heat escape - Affordable window sealing kits can be found in most local home improvement stores and can help you save. Have your home evaluated for leaky ducts, drafts around doors and windows, fireplace dampers and other places where air might escape.
  • Improve insulation  - Improving the insulation of walls, crawl spaces, floors and heating ducts is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy costs, saving you up to 10% on your monthly energy bill.