From LED bulbs to window coverings, five easy ways to cut energy use in your home

The Portland Press Herald breaks down five simple solutions for cutting your home heating bill without switching fuel systems:

With all the political wrangling this year around solar policy and natural gas expansion, it’s easy for Mainers to overlook the most obvious and cost-effective ways to save money and use less energy in their own homes.

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Misstep turns good news into bad for Summit Natural Gas

The Portland Press Herald explains how a pricing error by Summit Natural Gas has lead to a spike in prices for Maine customers.

“The proposed rate this heating season for home customers of Summit Natural Gas of Maine is the lowest since the company began operating in 2013, and is comparable to current average heating oil prices, figures compiled by the Governor’s Energy Office show.

This would seem to be a selling point for Summit, which entered Maine three years ago with the promise of expanding the state’s limited natural gas pipeline network and providing a cleaner, more-affordable alternative to heating oil.

But Summit came under fire last Thursday after it emailed a notice to its customers showing that its residential rate would climb 154 percent starting Oct. 1. The pending increase, however, was calculated off the current, unusually low summer rate, which draws little attention since people don’t heat their homes in the summer.”

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Surprise Natural Gas Drawdown Signals Higher Prices Ahead reports that natural gas supplies are lower than predicted following the warm summer months, which could drive up winter heating costs for homeowners:

Natural gas consumption patterns are much more seasonal than for oil. Demand tends to spike in the winter due to heating needs, and then drops substantially in the intervening months, particularly in the spring and fall. Between March/April and October/November, natural gas inventories build up as people need less heating, and that stockpiled gas is then used in the next winter.

So it comes as a surprise that after a record buildup in inventories this past winter, the summer has seen a much lower-than-expected buildup in storage. And last week’s drawdown, the first in over a decade during summertime, says quite a bit about the shifting energy landscape. The EIA says this is the result of two factors: higher consumption from electric power plants, and a drop off in production.

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