Just Askin': Cold-snap gas bills

Just Askin': Cold-snap gas bills

Q: How much did that cold snap cost Ameren customers?

A: Ameren didn't provide an exact number, but it's based on usage, and it said usage was up during the cold stretch.

Ameren Illinois residential and small commercial customers used 5 percent more heating in December than last year, as temperatures dropped below freezing from Dec. 24 to the end of the year.

It remained below freezing until Jan. 6, reaching minus-14 degrees on Jan. 2. Through the first nine days of the year, Ameren says heating usage was up 25 percent from last year.

While customers likely saw an increase in their bills, thanks to the abundance of natural gas supplies right now, Ameren spokeswoman Marcelyn Love said the cost of natural gas has declined over 30 percent since 2014.

She also said there's been flat demand for natural gas and that Ameren purchases natural gas in the summer, when prices are typically lower, and stores it underground for use during the winter.

Love encouraged customers to take steps to make sure their homes are heated efficiently, such as replacing furnace filters monthly, only heating necessary rooms and turning ceiling fans on low in a clockwise direction to move warm air down from the ceiling.

"Heating and cooling typically account for over half of the energy use in a home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes," she said.

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