Monday, September 1, 2014
Go to This Cold House
This Cold House
Ten ways to save money on your energy bill
Natural gas prices will push up heating costs this winter
Should you hedge your bets on high heating costs?
One woman's struggle to pay for heat
High energy costs squeeze schools' budgets
Rising heating prices spur surge in solar projects
Firewood sales heating up
Pawlenty pumps ethanol
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What you should know before you sign up

What you should know about the fixed-rate plans offered by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint.



* You are locking in a natural gas price for 12 months. If prices go up or down, your fixed rate will not change.

* This is not the same as a budget plan or average monthly payment plan, which simply averages your payments to avoid sharp fluctuations.

* You can't use the program to bump up your thermostat to 85 degrees. If you use considerably more natural gas than you typically use, you will be kicked out of the program, and will have to pay for the additional gas you used. But if you conserve energy, you don't get any money back.

* There is an early exit fee of $30 if you leave the program before 12 months.

* You will be automatically renewed at the end of the 12 months, unless you inform your utility you want to leave the program. You will receive a new renewal quote in the mail, and instructions on how to cancel if you want to leave the program.

* You may be eligible for a 10-percent discount in your fixed rate if you install a high-efficiency furnace or boiler.

* The programs carry an administrative fee of about 5 percent.

* You do not get any money back if there is an outage, and natural gas service is interrupted (neither do regular customers).

* Enrollment is limited to 12,500 Xcel customers and 50,000 CenterPoint customers.

* The deadline to enroll is Nov. 15.

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