With the holiday season approaching, it’s not great timing - but we want to warn you about potential sticker shock when it comes to your bills. You’ll probably be paying more for several of your utility bills. Our KPRC 2 Investigates team is here with what you need to know to prepare.
Higher winter electricity bills
In Houston, the hot summer months are typically when we expect to pay more for electricity. But that might not be the case this year.
“I cannot recall being in this business for this long periods of time where winter rates on the wholesale side are more expensive than the summer,” said Jesson Bradshaw, Energy Ogre CEO
It is Bradshaw’s job to look for the best electricity rates for customers. He’s warning customers now to expect higher rates this winter.
“Wholesale electricity is higher than we’ve seen in winters past,” said Bradshaw.
Right now, on average the best price you can get for wholesale electricity in Houston is two cents more per kilowatt hour than at this same time last year. A 12-month contract rate right now is about 11 cents vs. nine cents a year ago.
If you are locked into a contract, you may not see much change in your bill but if you are shopping around Bradshaw has this advice:
“You may want to focus on something that’s maybe a little bit more shorter term. Get yourself into a renewal cycle that’s either coming up in the spring or maybe in the fall,” said Bradshaw.
Remember, electricity rates are tied to gas and oil prices - which are both up.
Gas bill increase
When it comes to your gas bill, expect increases there too.
CenterPoint Energy tells us customers can expect to pay on average $67 a month this winter assuming we have normal winter weather. That’s $11 more than what the average customer paid per month last winter ($56).
We will probably also be paying to help fix the power grid issues that happened during the February freeze. If approved gas bills will increase by another $2.50 to $5 beginning in 2022 to recover costs from the freeze.
Water bill hike
You probably have noticed, your Houston water bill has already gone up. A nine percent water price increase took effect September first. Most single-family customers who use 3,000 gallons a month are paying about $4 more.
Add up all of those increases and you are looking at an extra $24 a month if you use the exact same amount of water, electricity and gas as last year.
Help paying utility bills Houston
There is assistance available if you need help paying your utility bills. In most cases, you need to meet certain requirements before you become eligible for help. We’ve put together a list of a few organizations that offer help.
- The Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) is a utility assistance program designed to assist low income households in meeting their immediate energy needs
- BakerRipley - Brazoria, Galveston and Harris Counties. Utility Assistance Hotline is 713-590-2327
- United Way of Greater Houston - United Way of Greater Houston Helpline at 2-1-1 or 713-957-4357.
- St. Vincent de Paul - Utility bill assistance but you need to make an appointment.
- Catholic Charities - help with bills on a case by case basis.
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Block Grant is funded by the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). In order to apply or get more information on utility bill help, call (877) 399-8939. The hotline is available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.