thermostatA majority of Iowans use natural gas to heat their homes and for those folks, there’s good news and even better news from the American Gas Association. Spokesman Bruce McDowell says supplies are up, prices are down and the winter ahead in Iowa may not be as bitter cold as some fear.

“There’s more than enough gas to satisfy demand this winter, even if it gets very cold, but we don’t expect it to get very cold,” McDowell says. “We think it’s going to be warmer than normal so that’s going to drop the bills a little bit, and with the prices being so low because supply is so prevalent, we’ve got an abundance of natural gas ready to be brought to market.”

The latest long-range forecasts point to a strong El Nino weather pattern which typically means a warmer-than-normal winter for Iowa and the Midwest. He predicts customers may see lower utility bills throughout the winter, in fact, they may be the lowest bills in a decade.

“We think there’s going to be a drop in the gas prices mainly because there’s so much gas out there and we produce more gas than we need so we’re putting it into storage,” McDowell says. “Without a weather event, we don’t think there’s going to be any drastic change in the supply situation.” Iowans will be gratified to hear their utility bills could be dropping by a significant amount in the typically-expensive heating months ahead.

“We think there’s going to be a 5-to-7 percent decline ourselves,” he says. “Other government agencies are predicting even more, up to 9 and 10% discounts.” McDowell says homeowners also need to do their part in conserving natural gas and in insulating and weather-proofing their homes.

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.