O&R: Preparation Is Key to Coping With Winter's Chill
When Orange & Rockland’s (O&R) 130,000 natural gas customers turn on their thermostats this winter, that welcomed heat flows as the result of O&R’s millions of dollars of investment, thousands of hours of planning, training and testing, and hundreds of days of installing new pipe in the ground.
O&R makes that investment to ensure that --- even on the coldest winter day --- its natural gas delivery system can safely and reliably meet customer demand.
The heating season is November through March. Based on its most recent forecast, O&R predicts, under its current rates, that this winter’s residential natural gas bills for its customers will be approximately 2.2 percent less than last winter’s.
The average monthly winter gas bill for a typical O&R full-service residential customer who uses natural gas for home heating is expected to decrease about $5 per month from $225 last winter to approximately $220 this winter. That estimate is based on the average usage of approximately 163 ccf per month and assumes normal winter weather.
To make natural gas work harder for you, it makes sense to have a qualified heating contractor or plumber clean and inspect your heating system before winter sets in. An efficiently burning heating system not only makes your natural gas dollars go farther, but it’s cleaner and safer.
Taking steps to tighten up insulation by using weather-stripping at all attic stairwells and access openings, and stopping cold air infiltration from electric switch and plug outlets by using draft blockers can also pay off.
In addition, double-checking all points where heat enters a room to make sure, draperies, furniture or other obstacles do not interfere with the free-flow of heat is a practical, easy way to help.
And, if you have already received a new smart meter, you can take advantage of viewing your detailed energy usage and customized energy savings tips located in your online account at oru.com to more effectively manage your household energy dollars.
Those tips, and other energy conservation and efficiency steps, gain greater importance if extreme cold weather, or other supply factors, create spikes in winter natural gas prices.
As a utility, O&R does not control the price of natural gas, and makes no profit on the gas it delivers to customers. However, O&R does analyze the supply and demand forecasts to create effective buying strategies that are designed to help minimize price fluctuations. These prices are passed on to customers at cost.
What can residential customers do to further lower their energy costs?
- Shop for alternate energy suppliers which may or may not provide you with a cheaper price on energy purchases. For more information about energy shopping, go to www.oru.com and the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) website at www.newyorkpowertochoose.com.
- In addition, to better manage the monthly utility bill to avoid unpredictable bills that result from seasonal usage variations, sign up for O&R’s Budget Billing program. Budget Billing does not reduce your overall energy expense. It simply lets you spread out your annual energy expense over a 12-month period (with updates every six months) and lets you know ahead of time what your monthly payment will be. That makes managing the household budget much easier.
- And for convenient shopping for energy-saving household products, it’s hard to beat the My ORU Store www.myorustore.com. It’s a digital marketplace that offers O&R’s residential customers a wide variety of energy-saving household products including LED lights, water/energy saving devices, advanced power strips, smart thermostats and connected home products. Home services are available from local customer-recommended contractors offering furnace tune ups and thermostat installations. The My ORU Store makes saving energy and money, both easy and affordable.
- For additional information about other energy efficiency and free winter energy saving tips, visit O&R’s website at www.oru.com/save.
O&R reminds the public that anyone who smells natural gas should leave the area immediately and call 911 or O&R’s emergency gas hotline at 1-800-533-LEAK (5325).
Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies. O&R is a regulated utility that provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it’s Rockland Electric Company), and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.