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Energy Rates Could Increase This Week For Some Natural Gas Customers

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A decision by the North Carolina Utilities Commission Monday could mean higher gas bills for some customers across the state, but experts say that saving money could be as simple as customers winterizing their homes.

The utilities commission is expected to decide on a request that PSNC filed earlier this month to raise residential rates 11 percent. If approved, the rate increase would cause an average gas bill to go up to $174 a month this winter, compared to $112 last winter.

According to PSNC spokeswoman Angie Townsend, the company is paying more than ever for natural gas and is forced to pass on the expense to customers.

The state has also approved rate increases for many other utilities, which could also mean higher bills this winter. But Townsend said by winterizing their homes, customers could keep down their energy costs.

"It's very important this winter, especially for folks to get ready, to winterize their homes, to try to hold that heating bill down as much as possible," she said.

For example, furnace maintenance can save customers between 20 and 30 percent on their heating bills, said Chris Thorne, who manages Stewart's Heating and Air Conditioning in Apex.

Managing thermostats could also help customers conserve energy and save money, Townsend said. For every degree they are able to keep the thermostat below 68 to 70 degrees, customers can save between 2 and 6 percent on their bills.

PSNC Energy also recommends customers take other measures that could help keep down costs, such as wearing an extra sweatshirt, weather-stripping doors and windows, heating only necessary rooms and removing furniture away from heating vents.

If approved, PSNC's increased energy rate would go into effect Nov. 1. PSNC Energy serves 230,000 customers in the Triangle and 405,000 statewide.


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