Keep the Polar Vortex from wreaking havoc on your wallet

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By Arthur Murray January 4th, 2018
For business

The scary words surrounding the great East Coast snowstorm – bombogenesis, bomb cyclone – aren’t the worst ones you’ll hear. That’s because another Polar Vortex is right behind (around?) it.

First, there’s the snow: snow is blanketing the Northeast today accompanied by wind gusts as strong as 60 mph. That’s more than enough to tie up interstates, delay flights, and cause power outages all along the storm’s path. Very real threats.

And that’s not the worst of it. The Polar Vortex – a swirling patch of cold air that should be living over the Arctic region – is coming.

Temperatures will continue to dip for over the coming days, which means people will work their heating units even harder. Which means electricity, natural gas, and heating oil will be in demand – high demand.

What the Polar Vortex means for you

The best way to gauge how this version of the Polar Vortex will affect families in the U.S. is to look at what happened during its appearance in 2014. First off, demand increased for natural gas and electricity. And when demand increases, prices follow suit.

Some anecdotal evidence from 2014:

Spot natural gas prices in Massachusetts more than doubled on the first day of the vortex in 2014, while peak-electricity costs increased more than $50, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Spot natural gas prices in New York City nearly quadrupled that same day, while the electricity price increased by more than $85, again according to the EIA.

PJM Interconnection, a Pennsylvania-based regional transmission organization, recorded its highest winter peak demand that day, resulting in a near-tripling of charges, according to the Energy Research Council.

According to the Chicago Tribune, some electricity customers saw electricity rates double during the Vortex period.

In Ohio, average natural gas prices increased by more than 50% in January 2014.

Pennsylvania customers paid about $100 more than normal during that month.

Keep in mind that energy prices already have increased in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine – and more hikes are possible.

The biggest losers, in nearly all those cases, were customers who buy energy under variable-rate plans, which are highly volatile because they’re tied to spot energy rates. But many customers also experienced “one-time” adjustments in late spring/early summer, according to the council.

What can you do about it?

We’re glad you asked that question. First, practice energy-saving tips whenever possible. And if you live in a deregulated energy state, can help you find natural gas and electricity plans so that you can lock in rates for six months or longer – hopefully enough time to escape the spikes from the Polar Vortex.

Don’t get left out in the cold – enter your ZIP code in the box at the top of this page to see what rates are available in your area today. You have nothing to lose – except the potential for a huge hole in your wallet.

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