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How to save money on your gas bill during this unprecedented hike

Sky high gas prices in Southern California could end soon
Sky high gas prices in Southern California could end soon 02:46

After an unprecedented hike in natural gas prices, SoCal Gas is promising millions of customers that their bills will be cheaper next month. 

On Tuesday, the company announced the price of natural gas dropped 68% and promised customers their bills would drop by more than half. 

Close up of portable electric halogen heater on black background
SoCal gas has blamed the unprecedented jump in natural gas prices on a perfect storm of short supply and increased demand during these unexpectedly cold temperatures. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shon Hiatt, a business strategy professor at USC, said more relief could come if a major pipeline comes back online. 

"One of those major pipelines, transmission pipelines, the Kinder Morgan El Paso pipeline has been out of service since 2021," said Hiatt. "They just filed paperwork to get it back into service last week."

In the meantime, the utility company has offered help through services such as a gas assistance fund, granting at most $100 to low-income individuals, and delaying collections on overdue accounts until April as well as not disconnecting overdue customers for the first half of the year.

While SoCal Gas warned customers in December that natural gas bills would be shockingly high in January — claiming it was a perfect storm of a lack of supply and higher demands during unusual chilly temperatures — consumer watchdog Jamie Court said the utility company should have prepared better. 

"If you're SoCal Gas, you buy it when it's cheap in summer," he said. "You transport it when it's cheap. Store it because they have plenty of storage and when you don't have to buy it in winter. You save your acorns up for winter but something went wrong."

The apparent shortsighted approach has exponentially increased prices for many customers, causing a financial strain for many like Monrovia resident Naomi Ladner. 

"Our bill has been $100 a month and I would pay $100 regularly every month so I could budget it," said Ladner. "All of a sudden I get this bill for $437."

While relief from the astronomically high prices may be coming soon, here are some ways to reduce your utility bill:

  • Turn down your thermostat by about 2 to 5 degrees. Make sure to not shut it off completely as your furnace will burn more fuel to re-heat your hope compared to maintaining a steady temperature.
  • If you don't have a programmable thermostat, they are about $20. 
  • Make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed to not let the heat out. If you can't get it fixed roll up a towel to block the draft. 
  • Open your blinds during the day so the sun can help heat the room.
  • Turn down your water heater. It doesn't need to be 140 degrees, 120 is just fine. 
  • Close the vents in unused rooms.

Finally, SoCal Gas is offering payment plans to help those in a bind. So, don't feel like you need to pay your bill off all at once.

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