By KESHIA CLUKEY
For the Express

National Grid is expecting a 4 percent increase in heating bills this winter, according to its forecast for the upcoming season.
“The current market conditions suggest the cost of winter heating bills for National Grid customers will remain fairly stable in Upstate New York with our customers experiencing only a slight increase in their bill,” said William Flaherty, regional executive director for National Grid.
Flaherty noted that weather conditions and a customer’s use of natural gas will determine the actual costs.
This year ,a resident using 712 therms will pay $760 over the five-month period between November and March, Flaherty said. A similar bill last year was $730, an increase of about $30, or 4 percent.
Some factors, particularly severe weather, could affect the demand for, and the price of natural gas and thus winter bills, according to a release from the American Gas Association.
According to the National Grid release, natural gas burns clean, and can increase energy efficiency by up to 30 percent compared to other heating sources.
National Grid Manager of Residential Energy Efficiency Lisa Tallet gave tips for customers on additional ways to save on heating costs.
The company has several energy efficiency programs offering rebates for installation of items such as Energy Star programmable thermostats, high-efficiency water heaters, and outdoor boiler reset controls, she said.
Tallet said additional steps to mitigate the impact of heating bills are: Having furnaces and heating systems checked every two years by a qualified heating contractor; making sure attic, walls and foundations are well insulated; and sealing gaps around doors, windows and foundations.