This year, according to a survey of American Gas Association (AGA) member companies, the number of customers disconnected from their utility service fell by more than 8%, indicating that the low price of natural gas is allowing more people to access the energy they need. Additionally, the total amount owed by customers fell nearly 15%.
Prices for natural gas last winter were nearly 2% lower compared to the year before, according to the Energy Information Administration, but the improvement in disconnect rates can also be attributed to the combination of an improving economy and assistance from federal, state and utility energy efficiency programs that helped more households stay current on their bills.
Low domestic prices have led to savings of almost $35 billion for residential gas customers over the past three years. Households that use gas appliances for heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying spend an average of $654 less per year than homes using electricity for those applications. In 2011, gas utilities created total savings of more than $300 million for customers – about $107 per household – and offset 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.