Cold temperatures led to historic natural gas consumption nationwide

Prolonged cold temperatures in January led to historic natural gas consumption nationwide.

The effects of those cold temperatures are being felt locally as Hastings Utilities rate payers receive their February bills.

A record high of 1.415 billion CCF (141.5 billion cubic feet) of natural gas was consumed on Jan. 16 in the U.S. Lower 48 states, exceeding the previous record set on December 23, 2022, according to estimates from S&P Global Commodity Insights and reported by the Energy Information Administration.

Well-below-normal temperatures caused by a large mass of arctice air that covered most of the continental United States increased demand of natural gas used for residential and commercial space heating and for electric power generation. 

Natural gas consumption in the lower 48 states averaged above 1.30 billion CCF per day from January 14 through January 21, 2024, as arctic air pushed south into the United States, causing temperatures to fall.

Locally, Hastings Utilities customers consumed 2,510,920 CCF in January, 2024 the largest amount of gas for the month of January since 2011 during which 2,637,010 CCF was consumed.

By comparison, the previous years saw: 

  •    2,146,170 million CCF in January 2023
  •    2,222,470 million CCF in January 2022
  •    1,961,900 million CCF in January 2021
  •    2,096,270 million CCF in January 2020

According to the National Weather Service’s ThreadEx climatological data index, the average temperature in Hastings during January was 20.9 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 5.5 degrees colder than the normal temperature of 26.4 degrees.

ThreadEx, which stands for Threaded Extremes, takes the maximum and minimum temperature, and the daily precipitation and pieces it together with other historical data to create a single, long-term set of daily weather information dating back more than 100 years.  

The heating degree days for January 2024 was 1,357 and the normal amount of heating degree days is 1,196 for January. The heating degree days were 1,166 in January 2023, and 1,163 in 2022. 

Degree days are the difference from the daily temperature mean based on the assumption that when the outside temperature is 65 degrees, neither heating or cooling is needed to be comfortable. If the temperature mean is above 65 degrees, subtract 65 from the mean at the result is cooling degree days. If the temperature mean is below 65 degrees, subtract the mean from 65 and the result is heating degree days.  

HU customers looking to avoid larger-than normal payments due in the future to temperature fluctuations can consider budget billing. 

With budget billing, the customer’s annual utility costs are divided into eleven equal payments, with the twelfth month (October) being the settlement month. Customers are eligible for budget billing after being on service for one full year at their current address and an account with a zero balance. 

Hastings Utilities customers with questions, want more info about budget billing or would like options for payment assistance are encouraged to call the Customer Service Department at (402) 463-1371. 

“Hastings Utilities is committed to supporting our customers and community,” said Karl Block, Manager of Administration for Hastings Utilities. “Have questions regarding your bill or need help managing your energy costs? Our Customer Service Team is available to answer your questions, explain options, and guide you through any challenges.”

Published Date: 02/19/2024

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