Iowans who heat their homes with natural gas will likely see higher heating bills this winter, compared to last winter, based on a study from the American Gas Association. Bruce McDowell, the organization’s director of policy analysis, says their projections show natural gas consumption by residential customers will rise in the months ahead.
“We can expect that they’ll use more because last year was the warmest year on record, so it’s bound to get a little colder than it did last year,” McDowell says. “Prices are lower though, that helps us set that, so we see a slight increase in the customer bills only because they’re going to be using more gas due to the weather, not because of any price increases.”
Iowans are helping to conserve natural gas, he says, which is stretching the supply and keeping the bills low. “In 1970, the house used 40% more than a house uses today,” McDowell says. “That’s what people are enjoying because of the conservation efforts they’ve made such as tighter homes, more efficient furnaces, checking the furnace to make sure it’s operating properly, and making sure that your home is adequately insulated.”
He says domestic natural gas supplies are at an all-time high. “Everybody agrees there’s an abundance of natural gas out there,” McDowell says. “We have forecast there’s enough gas out there to last a century or more. When I started in this business, it was 60 years of supply, now it’s 100 years of supply, and that goes back 30 years.”
The latest survey shows the U.S. has the largest storage assets of any country in the world with more than 400 natural gas storage fields. Record underground storage levels were reached in November of 2011 for the third year in a row.