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Category Archives: winter heating
The end of July has brought with it softening natural gas prices, the result of a confluence of supply and demand elements. Only a few months ago, some analysts questioned whether natural gas storage levels would be able to make a comeback following an 11-year record low for inventories at the end of the winter season. Today, we see natural gas volumes injected into storage at rates not seen in more than a decade and prices in the sub $4 range. Modest temperatures, seasonally low power generation load requirements, and record natural gas production are all ingredients into this summer’s recipe for relatively low Henry Hub prices and the supply position in which the country now finds itself immersed. That said, there still remains two months of summer, three months in the underground storage injection season, and an Atlantic hurricane season that has just gotten underway. Factors to keep an eye on include an uptick in temperatures; natural gas requirements for power generation; dry gas production flows; and supply issues related to disruptive weather events, such as storms in the Gulf of Mexico. However, even if one or more of these possibilities materializes, the US is still in a strong supply position – a fact that the market may be taking into account.
Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas and Rig Counts.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reminded us this month that the world’s first purpose-built, ocean-going LNG carrier, the Methane Princess, was placed into service 50 years ago in June 1964. That ship, and her sister vessel, the Methane Progress, traveled primarily between Algeria and the UK. Today, there are 357 such ships generally averaging five times the capacity of the original transporter.
Domestic production remains strong and growing, and storage injections’ aggressive poise has coincided with a slight softening of prices. Following one of the coldest winters in decades and the strongest demand pull ever, the physical market appears to be adjusting accordingly.
Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.
Senate to Set LIHEAP Funding Levels This Week
This week, the U.S. Senate will make key decisions regarding the ability of vulnerable energy customers to meet their basic home heating and cooling needs. Since 2010, funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has dropped by nearly $2 billion and the President’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 calls for just $2.8 billion – less than half of the $5.1 billion allocated in FY2010. Even when LIHEAP was funded at $5.1 billion, that amount was only enough to assist one in five eligible Americans.
Today, June 10, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee, which funds the LIHEAP program, will mark up their Fiscal Year 2015 appropriations spending bill, setting target funding levels for LIHEAP and other critical programs. The Senate Full Appropriations Committee is then expected to take up the bill on Thursday, June 12.
The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEAUC), AGA and low-income energy assistance supporters are calling on Congress to help ensure that all Americans can access essential energy to support their daily needs. AGA has signed a multi-party NEAUC letter, which will be delivered to every member of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.
Are you a low-income assistance organization or a utility representative? Sign the multi-party letter here.
You can help spread the word through social media or by contacting your representatives. AGA and NEAUC are sharing messages on Twitter at @AGA_naturalgas and @liheapcampaign using the hashtag #LIHEAP. Make sure to mention @SenateApprops in your tweets.
With U.S. Census data showing that more than 46 million Americans live in poverty and that the average low- and fixed-income family spends 13.5 percent of its annual income on energy – nearly twice the 7.2 percent spent by the average U.S. household – the need for sufficient LIHEAP funding is great.
AGA and America’s local natural gas utilities are committed to helping all customers meet their energy needs through efficiency programs and bill payment assistance. In 2012, utilities contributed nearly $3.7 billion in assistance to low-income customers – roughly equal to the $3.47 billion provided in LIHEAP funding that year. This assistance included discounted rates, arrearage forgiveness, weatherization and efficiency programs, and support to charitable organizations that provide resources for customers in need. Utilities also spent $1.1 billion in natural gas efficiency programs for all customers in 2012, helping homes and businesses reduce their typical annual natural gas usage by an average 16 percent and save $117 in annual energy costs.
You can find more information about LIHEAP in a 2014 report, Investing in LIHEAP, and individual state factsheets detailing funding scenarios, demographic information and the number of households served.
You could save anywhere from $300 to $1,262 per year on home heating costs and reduce your carbon footprint just by choosing a natural gas furnace, water heater or both.
These findings come with the release of AGA’s 2014 Representative Average Residential Space Heating and Water Heating Costs analysis which compares average annual costs for various types of space and water heating appliances. Based on estimated representative average fuel unit costs published by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, AGA analysts estimated the annual costs for natural gas furnaces and water heaters when compared to their propane, oil and electric counterparts.
A piece of equipment with a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating provides greater savings for customers. For example, a 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest cost space heating option for homeowners, followed by an 80 percent AFUE natural gas furnace. Both offer significant annual operating cost savings over comparable space heating options.
The charts below break down potential savings by each appliance option. For more detail, as well as information on how these numbers were compiled, view AGA’s recent press release.
Savings can be attributed to the low price of natural gas driven by its domestic abundance, as well as the efficiency of natural gas delivery systems and appliances. Direct use of natural gas – when natural gas is consumed directly in appliances for heating and cooling, water heating, cooking and clothes drying – achieves 92 percent energy efficiency from the point of production to delivery to the consumer. In typical home appliances, the direct use of natural gas cuts energy consumption by 28 percent compared to a similar home with all-electric appliances and produces 37 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas water heaters, for example, are nearly twice as efficient as electric resistance water heaters on a full-fuel-cycle comparison.
You can work with your local natural gas utility to upgrade your appliances and get more tips to increase your energy savings. As part of their commitment to promoting cost-effective and practical approaches to increasing energy efficiency, natural gas utilities invested $1.1 billion in natural gas efficiency programs in 2012 and budgeted nearly $1.5 billion for the 2013 program year. Here are a few services offered by some utilities:
- Offering low-interest financing, cash rebates and other financial subsidies for high-efficiency natural gas appliance purchases and whole home or building efficiency improvements
- Providing home energy audits, weatherization kits and programmable thermostats
- Supplying information on insulation and high-efficiency appliances
- Connecting customers with experienced and reliable appliance and service providers
- Making online information available such as energy usage calculators
Every day, America’s local natural gas utilities safely and reliably deliver savings and solutions like this to their more than 71 million residential, commercial and industrial customers throughout the United States. By providing access to our nation’s affordable, efficient and clean energy source, AGA’s member companies are helping to secure a sustainable energy future.