SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Springfield City Utilities (CU) told customers in October their bills could be double what they were last year. Some have weatherized their homes to avoid a high bill.

“We offered a higher rebate amount for insulation,” CU Manger of Media and Energy Services Joel Alexander said. “The way we increased it, we actually did 50 percent up to 500 dollars. In that time frame since September 1, we’ve actually seen 298 people take advantage of that. In the same time frame of the previous year 2020, we saw 66 people. So when you put the numbers to it, that’s a 450 percent increase in people taking the opportunity to put additional insulation into their homes.”

Back in October, Alexander expected customers to see an increase in what they had to pay for natural gas on their utility bill.

“Folks are just now starting to get their December bills,” Alexander said. “They are seeing from what we’re hearing right about a double on their natural gas portion of that.”

Alexander said this increase in prices is not only happening in Springfield, but nationwide.

“We did see a little decline the last few weeks just because demand in the natural gas market wasn’t there like it normally is,” Alexander said. “But now, here as we’ve had the cold spell come in throughout the United States, that market price is starting to uptick.”

Some homeowners have been weatherizing their homes to combat the uptick in natural gas prices.

“I think any bill is going to be higher than any of us wants it to be,” Springfield homeowner Matthew Stublefield said. “But I’ve definitely seen horror stories on Facebook and Nextdoor. I have not experienced that same kind of spike and I think part of that is because we’re really proactive about it and we’re trying to make improvements every year just a little bit of time as we can.” 

Stublefield bought his current home six years ago. He said the previous owners made attempts to weatherize the home. He noticed those attempts were causing more problems.

“I’ve got a 3-year-old and a one-year-old and one of the things I didn’t know until I became a new parent was babies can’t handle it being really cold,” Stublefield said. “Before we had kids we would let it get cold at night we just put an electric blanket on the bed. That was a really cost-efficient way to drop the furnace at night and stay warm while we’re sleeping, but you can’t do that with a newborn, so we had to keep the heat higher.”

Stublefield applied for CU’s insulation upgrade rebate and was able to insulate several parts of his home.

“It was still a a significant cost reduction,” Stublefield said. “I put I think 600 or 700 square feet of insulation into our crawl space. So I was able to cover the hallway, the nursery. It made a big difference in reducing our AC bill over the summer, because cold air falls, which was followed into the crawl space so that insulation helped. Then this winter, keeping the floors a bit warmer so and keeping that cold air from coming up from the crawl space.” 

Alexander said customers will see usage during Thursday’s cold temperatures on the next billing cycle in a few weeks. But, there are ways to track your usage.

“Our customers can open their portal account on our app. Customers can open the portal account on our City Utilities website. By doing that, you can actually track your usage and see exactly how much of each commodity you are using you and actually go back and compare,” says Alexander.

The insulation rebate runs through the end of February. Those wanting to get the rebate can apply on CU’s website. CU also encourages homeowners to reach out if they are struggling to pay their bills.

“It’s I think it’s really important for customers to understand that we need a line of communication with them if they are going to be having difficulty with the utility bill, especially during this period of time when the natural gas prices are so high. We understand that it’s difficult, but we can’t understand what’s going on with someone if there’s no line of communication so the best thing to do is reach out to us,” continued Alexander.

City Utility’s customer service number is 417-863-9000.