SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield City Utilities (CU) told customers in October their bills could be double what they were last year. Some have weathered their homes to avoid a high bill.
“We offered a higher rebate amount for the insulation,” said Joel Alexander, CU director of media and energy services. “The way we increased it, we actually made 50% up to $ 500. In that time since September 1, we’ve actually seen 298 people enjoy it. In the same period of the previous year 2020, we saw 66 people. So when you put the numbers in, that represents a 450% increase in the number of people taking the opportunity to install additional insulation in their homes.
In October, Alexander expected customers to see an increase in what they had to pay for natural gas on their utility bills.
“People are just starting to receive their December bills,” Alexander said. “They see from what we hear just double their share of natural gas.”
Alexander said this price increase is not just happening in Springfield, but nationwide.
“We have seen a slight decline over the past few weeks simply because demand in the natural gas market was not there as it normally is,” Alexander said. “But now here, as the cold snap has swept across the United States, that market price is starting to rise.”
Some homeowners have tampered with their homes to combat rising natural gas prices.
“I think any bill will be higher than we want,” said Matthew Stublefield, owner of Springfield. “But I have certainly seen horror stories on Facebook and Nextdoor. I haven’t experienced the same kind of spike and I think part of that is because we’re really proactive about it and trying to make improvements every year just as little time as possible.
Stublefield bought his current home six years ago. He said previous owners attempted to tamper with the house. He noticed that these attempts caused more problems.
“I have a 3 year old and a one year old and one of the things I didn’t know until I became a new parent was that babies can’t stand the cold,” Stublefield said. “Before having children, we would let it get cold at night, we would just put an electric blanket on the bed. It was a very economical way to turn the boiler down at night and keep warm while we sleep, but you can’t do that with a newborn baby so we had to keep the heat higher.
Stublefield requested the CU’s insulation upgrade and was able to insulate several parts of his house.
“It was still a significant cost reduction,” Stublefield said. “I put, I think, 600 or 700 square feet of insulation in our crawl space. So I was able to cover the hallway, the nursery. It made a big difference in reducing our air conditioning bill over the summer as the cold air fell, which was followed into the crawl space so the insulation was useful. Then this winter, keeping the floors a little warmer and preventing cold air from rising from the crawl space.
Alexander said customers will see usage during cold Thursday temperatures in the next billing cycle in a few weeks. But, there are ways to track your usage.
“Our customers can open their portal account on our app. Customers can open the portal account on our City Utilities website. By doing this, you can actually track your usage and see exactly how much of each product you’re using and go back and compare, ”says Alexander.
The insulation discount runs until the end of February. Those who wish to obtain the refund can apply on the CU website. CU also encourages homeowners to reach out if they are having trouble paying their bills.
“I think it’s really important that customers understand that we need a line of communication with them if they’re going to have trouble with utility bills, especially during this time when natural gas prices are so high. so high. We understand that it is difficult, but we cannot understand what is going on with someone if there is no line of communication, so the best thing to do is to contact us, ”continued Alexander. .
City Utility’s customer service number is 417-863-9000.