By Matt Mahoney
Energy prices are always changing, but this year is different. In May, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), the state agency that regulates utility services, alerted customers of “sharp increases in energy costs” with price increases ranging between 6% and 45%.
Per the PUC, the price increases are due to “higher wholesale prices for electricity, fueled in large part by shifts in supply and demand for natural gas,” which is the fuel that generates a lot of our electricity. In August, the PUC issued yet another price increase alert, urging struggling households to call utilities now to discuss their options.
As winter approaches, now is the time to take steps to reduce energy costs. There’s a lot we can do to prepare, and maybe even some we can do to help our neighbors prepare, too.
A good first step: insulating windows and leaky doorways to keep the heat in and the cold out. Also, consider caulking gaps near windows and gaps where ceilings and walls meet to reduce air drafts. Another way to save is using spray foam or foam board in the basement to close gaps between the basement and first floor. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be pretty, it just needs to do the job right.
For the past few years, I’ve been slowly making changes to my house to reduce energy costs. I started with an energy audit for my early 1900’s house and I learned a lot about my home and saved money on my electricity bill at the same time. Duquesne Light’s Watt Choices is currently offering rebates for their Residential Comprehensive Audit program for energy audits and other energy efficiency opportunities. Call to schedule an appointment at 1-866-787-5237 or email DLC.REEP@clearesult.com. (Please note that the Residential Comprehensive Audit program serves residential customers in single-family home dwellings.)
This winter, keep all of our neighbors in mind when the temperature drops and energy bills rise. Consider helping out by insulating a few of their windows or reducing any air drafts that might be making costs higher than they need to be. We might not know exactly how cold the weather will be this winter, but we do know energy costs are going to be high, so let’s make sure we’re looking out for one another on those cold winter nights.
Matt Mahoney is a nonprofit director, energy policy analyst, and a Greenfield neighbor.