Prepare for Winter 2022-23
This page includes information on the 2022-23 winter forecast and resources available to help consumers manage their energy use and related bills, consumer protections, and tips for staying safe this winter season.
For the 2022-23 winter season, in general, electric and natural gas bills are expected to be higher on average than last year. An average residential electric customer using 600 kWh of electricity per month is expected to pay about $75 per month for supply. Natural gas bills are projected to be about 29% higher than last year. The average residential natural gas customer, using 732 therms of natural gas from November through March, is expected to pay about $1201 in total for gas supply. The gas increase is mostly attributed to an increase in natural gas supply prices and anticipated higher usage due to potential colder weather. Actual bill impacts will vary by utility and with the weather: a colder than normal winter will cause usage and bills to increase.
The Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) – also known as the “Utility Consumers’ Bill of Rights” -- provides residential customers with comprehensive protections in areas relating to their energy service such as the application, termination and reconnection of service; customer billing; and complaint procedures.
Cold Weather Rules
HEFPA includes special protections and shut off procedures for circumstances where customer health and safety may be threatened by lack of service. Between November 1 and April 15, your provider must make a special effort to determine whether terminating heat-related service will result in serious impairment to your health or safety.
In addition to tips on managing winter costs, this winter preparedness guide includes information to help ensure that consumers heat their home safely.
There are steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe during the winter heating season, including preparing for weather-related outages; using precautions with alternative heating systems such as generators, kerosene heaters and fireplaces; and assisting people with special needs who may be particularly vulnerable during an outage.
Preparing Your Home
- Have your heating system checked annually by a professional. This will ensure that your system is working safely and efficiently which, in turn, will save you money. If you heat by wood, clean your fireplace or stove. Have your chimney flue checked for any buildup of creosote and then cleaned to lessen the risk of fire.
- Replace batteries of smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors. If you did not do it when you set the clocks back, do it now.
- Keep pipes from freezing by wrapping in insulation, UL approved heat tape, or layers of old newspapers and covering newspapers in plastic to keep out moisture. Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
- Gather and store emergency supplies, including:
- A battery-operated radio and flashlight, as well as a supply of batteries, candles and matches.
- Water, medications and foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking
- A telephone that does not require electricity to operate
- A list of emergency telephone numbers
- Extra blankets, coats, hats, and gloves
- A first aid kit and manual
- A fire extinguisher
Staying Warm Inside
If your heat goes out during a winter storm, follow these tips:
- Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.
- Close off rooms you do not need.
- Know the signs of hyperthermia (shivering, drowsiness, slowness) and how to treat it (wrap the person in warm clothing, move to a warm location and seek medical help).
- Check on people with special needs (elderly or dependent on life-sustaining or health-related equipment such as ventilators and respirators).
Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas that also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
- DO NOT operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- DO NOT use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
- DO NOT use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
- Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (sleepiness, headaches and dizziness). If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.
Alternative Heating Sources
Fire Hazards are greatly increased in the winter because alternate heating sources are often used without proper safety precautions.
Generator Safety – follow the generator safety guidelines such as those listed in this publication when operating a generator
- Always keep a screen around an open flame.
- Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
- Never burn charcoal indoors.
- Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
- When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, wood stove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation.
- Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
- Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it.
- Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors ... and make sure they work!
- Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.
Kerosene Heaters – If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
- Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
- Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
- When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.