How to lower gas bill and pinch a penny or two with the help of DoNotPay
Many homeowners use gas-based heating for their homes, even though gas prices are prone to significant fluctuations that depend on the circumstances that are, in most cases, beyond the consumers’ control.
The States are in the middle of natural gas market expansion, with a constant influx of inexpensive gas arriving from the Atlantic. Despite that, the price of natural gas seems to grow every winter, which affects your gas bills.
Here’s all you need to know about gas prices and how to keep them down.
If gas is getting cheaper, why does my gas bill keep increasing?
An average monthly gas bill in 2019 was about $72, which sums up to an average of $864 per year. That is a significant increase compared to previous years. You can see it in the gas bill statistics per state:
Average gas consumption
East North Central
West North Central
District of Columbia
East South Central
West South Central
A significant contributor to the increase of the gas bills is the electric sector, which moves away from coal and begins to use natural gas. Affordable price and availability of natural gas made it overtake coal as the largest source of electricity at power plants all over the States.
This change is notable in New England, where all coal plants are either closed or about to shut down. American households compete with electric power plants for the natural gas supply, so the simple economic principle of supply and demand is the main reason your gas bill is so high.
Some states try to keep up with the rising demand for natural gas by building new natural gas pipelines. Still, the cost of building an additional pipeline system is very high. The majority of that cost is passed on to households as a part of the gas and electricity bill.
Another significant factor of gas bills increase is the weather change. Colder days mean your heating system will work harder to produce a pleasant living temperature. If you use gas to heat your home water supply, colder weather will cause an increase in gas consumption.
Don’t forget that every technology becomes outdated over time, including household heating. Obsolete heating systems will require gradually more energy to produce the same amount of heating. Lower efficiency means your system will consume more gas, even if you didn’t change the temperature at the thermostat.
DoNotPay will help you with your gas bill
Coronavirus outbreak made many people stop working, and they lost a regular source of income. Bills didn’t stop coming, and a lot of people started struggling to pay all financial obligations for various services. DoNotPay decided to give a hand to all people in need. Our app will help you apply for easier payment conditions in a few easy steps:
- Access DoNotPay in a web browser or the iOS app
- Scroll down the main page until you find the “Corona Relief” field
- Click “Other Bills”
- Provide our bot with necessary info
In the next 48 hours, you should get an email containing the letter DoNotPay sent to your gas company.
Are there any other methods to defer paying your gas bills?
If you need more time to pay your gas bill, inform your gas provider as soon as possible. Your bill will be declared late if you don’t pay it 19 days from the date presented on the bill. If you don’t pay it on time, your gas service will be shut off, and reconnection fees and deposits will cost you more in the end. Some gas companies made the process of delay easier by allowing customers to postpone payments via “My Account” settings. Here’s how:
- Log in or register to your gas provider’s site
- Go to “My Account”
- Click on “Pay My Bill”
- Select “Payment Extension”
To register, you need your latest gas bill.
In case your gas provider doesn’t offer this option on their website, you can always turn to DoNotPay. All you need to do is explain your situation to us, and we’ll write a request for an extension on your behalf.
Can your gas company waive your payments?
Yes, they can. Many gas providers are allowing compromises to non-paying customers. Contact your gas provider so you can arrange a waiver for your payments. DoNotPay can help you apply for a gas bill waiver quickly and with almost no effort.
Analyzing your gas bill
At first glance, your gas bill might look like a rocket science formula. The display of all the items you have to pay isn’t something you’ll understand easily. It is hard to tell the charges apart among all those acronyms and figures. That’s why we’re here to help.
Before you begin to solve your gas bill, it’s crucial to know what your rate plan is. Your rate plan might be fixed or variable. A fixed-rate plan means you pay the same bill every month, despite the changes in gas prices. A variable plan follows the fluctuation in the market and adjusts the bills accordingly. The majority of households use a fixed rate. You can check the type of rate you’re using next to your account number on the bill.
You also need to know about your average rate plan. That’s the phrase for the price you pay per a measurement unit. A measurement unit, also known as therm, represents a referent amount of gas consumption. The typical price range per therm is 40–60 cents.
Depending on a delivery company, gas bills have some differences in layout, but the crucial items are always there:
- Billing date
- Previous bill
- Delivery charges
- Commodity charges
- Other charges and taxes
The billing date is the date your bill was assigned. Every transaction following this date will go over to the following bill. The billing period is a time frame during which your account is billed with charges.
In case you weren’t able to come through with your financial obligations the previous month, the balance from the previous bill shows how much you owe from the previous billing period. Any additional payments or changes since the issuance of the last bill are also shown here.
Delivery charges cover the cost of maintenance of the gas system. That money goes to the improvement of the system. There are two kinds of delivery charges:
- Basic charge, which is a constant daily fee. This charge covers up the cost of the gas system, and you have to pay for it regardless of whether you’re using gas or not
- The delivery charge, which is based on usage. It meets the costs of transporting the gas through the pipeline system to residences
These charges cover the expenses of buying and transporting gas. These charges depend on the price of gas, which is dictated by supply and demand.
The cost of gas is the price of gas on the market. Natural gas prices are prone to changes, so the price is reviewed every couple of months. This is usually the biggest figure on the bill.
Other charges and taxes
Depending on the state, county, and municipality, your bill will be subject to various taxes. The majority of the tax obligations are state and local taxes, without income taxes. There are several sorts of state and local taxes, which include:
- Property taxes on physical property and real estate. They are usually the most expensive state and local costs paid by utilities
- Gross receipts, which taxes total revenues on gas utility
- Federal and state income taxes
- Payroll taxes
- Miscellaneous taxes
While examining the bill, you might notice an item called the “City Gate Cost.” That’s the cost of buying and processing the gas, added with the price of conveying the gas to the utility. This item is the largest portion of residential bills, making up for about half of the bill.
Making sure your bill is without errors
If the figures on your bill are higher than usual, the reason for that might be some kind of mistake during accounting. To make sure, check the following:
- Look for double items
- See if there are any services you didn’t receive
- Check if there are any items you don’t recognize
- Make sure your insurance paid your bills correctly
If you still can’t find anything irregular on your bill, ask a professional bookkeeper for help. They know how bills are itemized.
Agree on better payment conditions with your gas supplier
Every energy supplier needs to follow a code of practice. That means they have to take some steps before they cut your gas supply off. You can agree on better terms and arrange a relief in payment. Some conditions can save you from losing your gas supply.
- Agreeing to a payment arrangement
- Switching to a prepayment meter
- The sum you owe belongs to a previous tenant
- The bill was made between October and March
- All adults in the residence are retired
- Any of the adults is severely ill
Here are some relief options that will help you pay your late bills.
Fuel Direct / Third Party Deduction
Usage reduction programs
Using loan or credit card to pay your gas bill
If you don’t have any other payment option left, you can get a loan to pay your gas bill. This option is not ideal since there are severe repercussions if you don’t return your loan on time.
Similar rules work for credit cards. It is convenient to transfer your bill to your credit balance, but if your bills are huge, it may seriously affect your credit score. Think hard, and make sure you’ve calculated your budget before using any of those two.
What happens to non-paying gas users?
Gas is one of the essential resources, especially during winter months. That’s why gas distributing companies won’t disconnect their supply to non-paying customers during winter months, or any day when the temperature is forecast to fall below zero. It doesn’t mean those non-paying users are free from their financial responsibilities toward companies.
The companies will try to reach them, and, after a while, they might sell their debts to a debt collection agency. Anyone should avoid that, as the agencies are much more intrusive. If dealing with them is inevitable, there are some things you need to know about them:
Debt collectors have their limits
Even when you fail to honor your financial obligations, the law protects you from offensive, dishonest and abusive actions. Debt collectors are forbidden to call you anywhere between 9 PM and 8 AM— they cannot harass you or contact you at work. You can even ask your gas provider to make debt collectors stop contacting you.
Keep everything documented
Debt collectors are required by law to give you all the info about your debt and your creditor. Always ask for the written version. Whatever deal you make with debt collectors, ask for the documentation. It’s also smart to record all phone conversations with debt collectors.
Offer to settle
You can pay off the part of your debt as a lump sum. The height of your settlement is directly related to the significance of your debt. You can also file for bankruptcy and pay off your debts in monthly rates. Another option is to sell some of your property and repay the debt with that money.
Measures to save on your gas bill
While the gas bills are steadily increasing, you should consider some of the ways to lower your gas consumption. Here are several suggestions on how to do that.
Electrifying the home appliances
The optimal way to decrease your gas usage as much as possible is to electrify your heating devices. The most common electrifying option is installing air source heat pumps. They are much more efficient at turning energy into warmth than oil or electric-based heaters.
You can also use solar energy to power electric heating systems. Consider installing a solar system on your property. Sure, you’ll need to spend a pretty penny initially, but it’ll save quite a bit of cash in the long run.
The amount of gas needed for your home decreases with the amount of heat needed. Upgrading your home insulation is a good method to conserve money on your gas bill. If your residence is old, your insulation is probably obsolete and flawed. Before insulation, you can hire a professional to identify house areas prone to heat leakage. The properly insulated house will keep the heat inside, which will reflect positively on your gas bill.
Changing your everyday practices
There are ways to save money on your gas bills without having to spend a dime. All you have to do is to change your daily habits a bit. Here are some examples:
- Use the sun. Take advantage of its natural heat. Open up window blinds when the sun shines in the appropriate areas of your home.
- Wear additional layers of clothes during colder months. That way, you can lower the thermostat temperature and save the dough.
- Maintain the vents and radiators in your home clean. This provides a better flow of heat, which means you’ll need less gas to achieve the same temperature.
- If you have any rooms you don’t use, shut the doors and close the vents in those rooms. The heat that would have been wasted on these rooms can be redistributed to the living spaces you actually use.
Setting a smart thermostat
The best way to have your home save energy while keeping a comfortable temperature is to use technology. A smart thermostat can effectively regulate temperatures within your residence at all times of a day. During your work hours, you can set your thermostat to automatically lower the heat. You’ll have total control over scheduling your heat system, which means that less heat would be wasted while nobody’s home.
Other DoNotPay features
- Finding help with other bills
- Suing people and companies in small claims court
- Disputing parking tickets
- Creating virtual credit cards to evade being billed after trial periods
- Getting compensated for late or canceled flights
- Skipping the phone queue when contacting customer service
- Contesting speeding tickets
- Stopping any other subscription and membership
- Arranging meetings with the DMV faster
- Fighting traffic tickets