Most Iowans heat their homes with natural gas and they’re facing a good news-bad news situation as the colder months approach. A report from the American Gas Association predicts there will be a relatively “normal” winter ahead, but it also notes natural gas prices are creeping up.
Chris McGill is a policy analyst for the association. “It doesn’t appear, according to the National Weather Service, that we’re going to have a repeat of the ‘polar vortex’, so a more moderate, more normal winter this year,” McGill says. “However, the price of natural gas, the unit cost of natural gas for consumers, has been going up over the last couple of years.”
That will likely translate to Iowans facing more expensive utility bills in the coming months. McGill says, “With the increase in costs along with a perhaps-normal winter, we actually see the possibility of bills being about 7% higher this year, compared to last year.”
Demand for natural gas remains very high but he says there should not be any shortages. “Supplies are very strong,” McGill says. “We’ve been putting record volumes of natural gas back into storage, planning for the coming winter heating season. Natural gas supplies in North America in general are very strong.”
A report from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates 67 percent of Iowans use natural gas to heat their homes, 15 percent use electricity, 14 percent use propane, and the rest use wood or fuel oil.