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Gas companies warn of spike in bills this winter season

CenterPoint Energy said global demand for natural gas will lead to higher heating bills this winter season.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gas bills are expected to soar this winter. CenterPoint Energy is warning its customers of higher bills during what national experts predict could be the most expensive winter in more than a decade.

Bitter temperatures are coming.

"As soon as it gets really cold, we start to get calls. So, I suspect in the coming weeks, we'll start to get a lot of calls," said Dan Considine, a spokesperson for Citizens Energy Group.

The price to heat your home has nearly doubled compared to last year at this time.

Starting next month, CenterPoint customers could pay on average, $130 per month through March. That's about $40 more, with the average cost being around $88.

The company, formerly Vectren, said it's due to global demand.

"We do not mark it up nor make a profit on that natural gas. It is a dollar-for-dollar pass through to our customers," said Alyssia Oshodi, a spokesperson for CenterPoint Energy.

Citizens Energy customers will see a $10 hit to their bill. The company uses underground natural gas storage fields, as well as four pipelines, drawing gas from across North America to Indiana, allowing the company to shop around.

"We also don't want to lead people to believe that there's any kind of shortage of gas in the United States. In fact, just the opposite. The U.S. is the number one producer of natural gas in the world," Considine said.

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Here are a few simple ways to save this winter: 

  • Dial your thermostat down 5 to 7 degrees when you go to bed or if you're not home.
  • Change your furnace filter regularly.
  • Open blinds to get some sun in during the day.

If you're having trouble paying your bill, call your company to set up a flexible payment plan.

"We don't want people — if they're falling behind on their bill — to be afraid of us. We're here to help," Considine said.

"The most important thing for us is to make sure to safely and reliably provide that natural gas service to our customers and keep them warm through this winter heating season," Oshodi said.

For help paying the energy bill, check to see if you're eligible for Marion County's energy assistance program. 

If eligible, Citizens Gas will automatically provide a discount. Beginning Oct. 25, schedule a phone appointment to complete your application. Click here for more information on CenterPoint's energy assistance program.