What to Expect From Gas and Electricity Bills This Winter

As cold temperatures approach, some of us may turn on the heat for the first time.

And some utility bills may be higher than last year, and some lower.

Whether it's gas or electricity, your bill begins with natural gas.

Xcel Energy announced the average electricity bill should decrease about eight percent for the rest of this year.

Atmos Energy says their customers Should not expect a decline, because natural gas is 26 percent higher this year than last October.

"The Energy Information Agency is predicting an 18 percent increase overall in energy bills for natural gas customers," said Ray Urrutia, the Atmos Energy spokesman.

Your bill for both gas and electricity starts with natural gas.

Some Xcel power plants use natural gas and the price has dropped significantly since this summer.

That price is passed on to you in the fuel factor on your bill, that is now locked in for four more months.

Atmos customers pay for gas based off of a month to month basis, so while natural gas is down from it's high this July, the price could change.

"It may turn a month from now, or in January. That remains to be seen. It's going to be dependant on what the market is bearing," said Urrutia.

"We'll see what the market does for the next six months. But I think it's going to be fairly stable. I don't think consumers are going to see a huge hit on electricity right now," said Wes Reeves, the Xcel Energy spokesman.

The natural gas market will determine what you pay in the coming months, but for once the downward trend is relieving to some.

"It feels good to lower those bills right now because we know consumers have watched bills go up up and up. With electricity and everything else. With gas going down and electricity going down at least that's going to help in the next 2 to three months," said Reeves.

"Today it's on a down turn. What's going to happen tomorrow remains to be seen," said Urrutia.

Whatever the price of natural gas, both Reeves and Urrutia say conservation and energy efficiency are the best ways to keep your bills low.

If you want to keep your bills low check out their energy efficient web sites here: