Natural gas prices have dropped compared to last year. In Sandusky, if you went with the “aggregated rate” the City of Sandusky negotiated (which was a very good fixed rate, by the way, compared to other options) you paid $1.03/ccf. This year, the City of Sandusky negotiated a rate of .749 cents/ccf. (Thank you, again, Sandusky!) The week of August 24, the variable rate has been .5388 cents/ccf. (Variable rate means the price goes up and down on a month-to-month basis.)
The Ohio Consumers Counsel (the state agency that advocates for residential consumers of regulated utilities) has a cost comparison chart at www.pickocc.org and they update it every week. Where you are at the Ohio Consumer Counsel’s website, click on the words Natural Gas, then click on compare your choices, then click on Columbia Gas. You will see a chart of what natural gas is selling for. So far, the best fixed rate is .77 cents for one year… And that price comes with a contract cancellation fee of $125, if you decide later that you want to buy natural gas from another supplier, before your 12 month contract has expired.
There are two programs that have raised the ceiling on how much gross annual income you can have and still qualify for some significant heating assistance. For instance, you qualify if your gross annual income is $21,660 or less for one person or $29,140 or less for a household of two. Click this link for a more complete description of income eligibility.
The first one is called HWAP (Home Weatherization Assistance Program) to help you capitalize declining fuel costs by getting free/low-cost insulation services. It’s a federally-funded program that will insulate your home and if appropriate, replace your furnace with a more efficient one. Your local contact to talk with someone about applying for this service is Amy Hirt with WSOS (800-775-9767.)
The other thing you should know is that if you fall into this gross annual income requirement, you are also entitled to a heating “credit” on your Columbia Gas bill. Click here to find out more. There is a formula used to determine how much of a subsidy you will receive, but we have seen clients get as much as $250 for the heating season. And if you are a propane or fuel oil user, there is help for you, too.
The formula for determining how much financial assistance you will receive is different than the one used to calculate a natural gas “credit," but it is still well worth your time to apply if your gross annual income meets the requirements described in the link.
For residents of Erie County, age 60 and older, don’t forget … If you need help applying for any of these program, filling out the application or help with any of the required documentation – let Serving Our Seniors take the confusion out of the process for you. Call and ask for an appointment to help you get the application(s) completed properly and submitted. We do this all the time! Call us at 1-800-564-1856 or 419-624-1856. Our help is free of charge. Just call and ask for an appointment.