Lower temperatures and higher natural gas costs could cause energy bills to rise this winter.

Lower temperatures and higher natural gas costs could cause energy bills to rise this winter.
According to the Associated Press, Kansas Gas Service expects customer bills to increase about 6 percent from November to May across the state. Cooler summer temperatures have increased the demand for natural gas, raising prices from historic lows.
These rising costs could translate to higher energy bills, even for homes heated by electricity.
The McPherson Board of Public Utilities has provided low-cost electricity to the county using coal and natural gas. Tim Maier, general manager of the board, said the rising cost of natural gas also will cause an increase in electricity prices, though he expects the cost to rise by only 1 or 2 percent.
Maier said the best way to reduce energy bills in the short term is to lower thermostats in winter.
In the long term, Maier suggested making homes more energy efficient. This includes making sure the home is well insulated and using energy-efficient fixtures and light bulbs.
For those who struggle to pay energy bills, the Kansas Corporation Commission’s cold weather rule will be in effect Nov. 1 through March 31. It prohibits utility companies from disconnecting a customer’s natural gas or electric service when temperatures fall below 35 degrees.
Help also may be available through local charities.
BPU also can work with customers to set up payment arrangements and assistance.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Josh Arnett by email at jarnett@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.