Get ready to dig deeper into your wallet this winter: National Grid is forecasting higher heating bills.
When the winter winds begin to howl and we spend more time indoors, we'll be turning up the thermostat and using more energy. That's part of living in the Northeast. National Grid spokesman Nathan Stone details what factors come into play when utility companies calculate the estimated cost of natural gas. "A lot of this has to do with weather patterns over the last 10 years. We're not actually doing the forecasting. We're just looking at the information that we have that's been made available to us from various weather services. We look at typical usage, what people are actually using as a baseline for how much gas we're gonna be pushing through our system. In this particular case, we're looking at, most of the increase is coming from the commodity side of it, which is the actual gas itself. So as you know, National Grid purchases gas, and electricity for that matter, for its customers and sells it back to them at cost, so we don't make any profit on that."
Stone says the winter heating season runs November 1st through March 31st. "That's our typical winter heating season. We're forecasting that the bills are gonna be 4.6 percent higher based on an average of 713 therms of gas usage, which basically, nuts and bolts boils down to about $4 a month."
Bob Connors, a co-organizer of the Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Fair, says the first order of business is to look for ways to insulate your home or apartment, especially around windows and doors. A longer-term solution involves installing replacement windows and insulation-backed siding. "And also in the short term, I would strongly recommend in New York, people call NYSERDA, because they will do a free energy audit of one's home or property and make recommendations about what are the best ways to save money, and also the payback times."
Co-organizer Becky Meier invites consumers to visit the fair for more energy and money-saving ideas. "It can be a little overwhelming, all of the options out there for renewable energy, so I think of this as one-stop shopping for information and actual products. You'll have solar, geothermal, insulation, composting, almost every topic you can think of that will lead to a more renewable living life. We'll all be there. You can ask your questions that you're wondering about. You can sign up for audits or someone to come to your house to see what might be possible. You can ride an electric car. One of the things I'm really pushing is that people can sign up for an energy supplier that supplies through renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, and it's usually cheaper."
- There will be over 20 not for profit organizations with information about bicycling options in the Capital District, how to sign up for a NYSERDA energy audit, how your town can become a “Climate Smart Community,” the best ways to compost, environmental justice, lobbying for a carbon tax, biomass heating, the power of Community Choice Aggregation, making healthy soil, recycling, raising and saving bees, HVCC’s Clean Energy Management Program, a comprehensive Green Energy newspaper, and local climate advocacy organizations.
The 2017 Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair is October 28 from 10-4 p.m. at the Doane Stuart School, 199 Washington Ave. Rensselaer, NY. Judith Enck, former Obama Regional EPA administrator will be the keynote speaker at noon, along with other workshop speakers throughout the entire day. Admission and parking are free.
- Learn more about solar installations on your home, community solar and buying your electricity through a renewable energy supplier. Learn how a Google offshoot is making geothermal heating and cooling installations more affordable. There will be information on green and zero energy building techniques, heat pumps, replacement windows, energy efficient products and how to invest your money in sustainable businesses.