Ask PSC

Winter Preparedness 2021-2022



This page includes information on the 2021-22 winter pricing forecast and the resources available to help consumers manage their energy usage and related bills, consumer protections, and tips for staying safe this winter season. Copies of winter preparedness materials are available on the DPS Winter Publications 2021-22 page.


Winter Forecast

For the 2021-22 winter season, in general, electric and natural gas bills are expected to be higher on average than last year. An average residential electric customer using 600 kWh of electricity per month is expected to pay about $43 per month for supply. Natural gas bills are projected to be about 21% higher than last year. The average residential natural gas customer, using 740 therms of natural gas from November through March, is expected to pay about $935 in total for gas supply. The gas increase is mostly attributed to an increase in natural gas supply prices and anticipated higher usage due to potential colder weather. Actual bill impacts will vary by utility and with the weather: a colder than normal winter will cause usage and bills to increase.

Energy Pricing: An energy bill consists of two parts: delivery and supply. The delivery charge is the cost to transport the electricity or natural gas to you throughout the utility's system. This fee is regulated by the NYS Public Service Commission (PSC) . The supply charge is the cost of he electricity or natural gas commodity itself. The supply price is determined in a competitive marketplace based on market factors and is not controlled by the PSC or the utilities. Your energy bill depends on how much electricity or natural gas you used and the rate you are paying. In general, the more energy you use, the higher your bill will be.

Factors that affect Commodity (Supply) Pricing: The commodity price of electricity or natural gas rises, and falls based on many factors, including the weather, the balance between supply and demand, the amount and cost of natural gas in storage, and energy demand in places like Europe and Asia. When there is a widespread and prolonged cold spell, overall demand for energy increases, which puts upward pressure on prices. Any change in the cost of the supply can have significant impact on the overall energy bill.

Consumer Protections

COVID-19 Moratorium on Utility Municipal Shutoffs
The moratorium on utility service shutoffs during the COVID-19 state of emergency ended on December 21, 2021. However, New York State is offering financial assistance and consumer protections to help customers to maintain their utility service and to pay down their arrears. For more information follow this link to the Covid-19 Moratorium informational page.

Cold Weather Rules
The Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA) – also known as the “Utility Consumers’ Bill of Rights” -- provides residential customers with comprehensive protections in areas relating to their energy service such as the application, termination and reconnection of service; customer billing; and complaint procedures.

HEFPA includes special protections and shut off procedures for circumstances where customer health and safety may be threatened by lack of service. Between November 1 and April 15, your provider must make a special effort to determine whether terminating heat-related service will result in serious impairment to your health or safety. The Cold Weather Rules can be found in §11.5(c) of the HEFPA regulations.


Winter Workshops for Community Leaders and Elected Officials
The winter season can be a difficult time for many New Yorkers, especially those on fixed or low incomes, to manage energy costs. In January 2022, the New York Department of Public Service (DPS) hosted virtual workshops for community leaders and elected officials about resources available to help consumers during the 2021-22 winter season.  The workshops included presentations from the following state agencies: NYS Department of Public Service (DPS), NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), NYS Homes and Community Renewal (NYSHCR), NYS Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), and NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA).

    Topics covered during the workshops included
    • financial assistance programs, such as Home Energy and Low-Income Household Water Assistance Programs,
    • utility energy affordability programs,
    • weatherization and other actions consumers can take to be energy efficient,
    • home and community-based services and supports for older adults and their caregivers, and
    • how to direct consumers to the winter resources.

    Please visit the DPS YouTube Channel to view a recording of the Virtual Winter Workshop 2021-22 (direct link to the recording).

    The agency presentations are available in a single pdf which is available below to download.
    Winter Workshops 2021-22 Presentations January 2022 (002).pdfWinter Workshops 2021-22 Presentations January 2022 (002).pdf

    Back to Top

    Manage Your Heating Costs

    Whether you own your own home or rent an apartment, there are steps you can take to control your energy use and manage your energy bills. Read below for information on bill payment options and financial assistance programs. This information is also available to download by clicking the Consumer Assistance Fact Sheet.

    Consumer Assistance Fact Sheet 21-22.pdfConsumer Assistance Fact Sheet 21-22.pdf


    Consider Bill Payment Options and Assistance Programs
    You or someone you know may need financial help to get through this heating season. Various bill payment options and financial assistance programs are available.

    Hide details for View More Payment Options: View More Payment Options:

    Payment options available from your utility include:

      • Budget Plans - which provide equal monthly payments to help reduce bill fluctuations due to seasonal patterns of energy usage.
      • Deferred Payment Agreements – option to pay overdue bills in reasonable installments over a period of time. May be available if you have fallen behind on your bill and cannot pay in full

    Hide details for Explore Financial Assistance Programs:Explore Financial Assistance Programs:

    Financial Assistance Programs are available to help consumers with their heating costs from the following sources:

    Government Sponsored Programs: Contact your county's Department of Social Services or Office for Aging to learn about assistance programs.

    • Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP): a federally funded program that provides heating grants to help income-eligible consumers pay for their energy costs. Additional information regarding the HEAP program can be found at the mybenefits website, or you may go to the HEAP website. The Consumer Assistance factsheet provides income eligibility information, as well as a more detailed description of each program benefit.

      HEAP Benefits and Important Dates:

        • Regular Benefit component opened October 1, 2021 and is scheduled to operate through March 15, 2022.
        • Regular Arrears Supplement component opened September 22, 2021.
        • Emergency Benefit Component Extension component will operate through COB August 31, 2022.
        • Third Emergency Benefit component opened May 2, 2022 and will operate through August 31, 2022.
        • Heating Equipment Repair and Replacement component opened October 1, 2021 and is scheduled to operate through September 30, 2022.
        • Clean and Tune benefit opens October 1, 2021 and will operate through September 30, 2022.
        • Cooling Assistance component opens May 2, 2022 and is scheduled to operate through August 31, 2022.

      Note: benefit dates may be shortened or extended depending on demand and available funding.

    • Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP): is a drinking water and wastewater emergency assistance program funded through new federal resources. Benefits are based on the amount of unpaid water and wastewater bills owed by applicants. This assistance is targeted at low-income households and income guidelines will mirror that of HEAP. Information regarding LIHWAP can be found by visiting otda.ny.gov/LIHWAP.

    • Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP): is a federal program that provides low income families up to $30 a month towards the cost of broadband internet service. Information regarding ACP benefits and eligibility can be found by visiting ACPBenefit.org or calling 877-384-2575.


    Community-based Service Programs:
      Service organizations and local community agencies provide financial aid, counseling services and assistance with utility emergencies. Contact organizations like the American Red Cross (800-733-2767), Salvation Army (800-728-7825), and United Way (2-1-1 or 888-774-7633) to learn more.

    Utility Sponsored Programs: Back to Top


    Conserve Energy

    In general the more energy you use, the higher your bill will be. There are simple, affordable measures consumers can take to reduce energy use and become more energy efficient, which may help to lower your bills.

    Energy Efficiency Tips:
    Reduce your home heating costs by:

      • maintaining your heating system
      • insulating your home
      • sealing air leaks around windows, doors and foundations
      • adjusting your thermostat settings, and
      • following other simple and affordable steps outlined in this checklist in the below pdf.
      Tips for efficiency.pdfTips for efficiency.pdf
    Energy Efficiency Programs:
    In addition to low-cost or no-cost steps you can do yourself, there are programs available through several government agencies and New York's major energy utilities to make energy efficiency improvements to your home or business. These improvements will help lower your energy use and make energy bills more affordable. There are also programs to help low income customers with energy efficiency solutions. For details about their programs, contact:
      • NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers financial assistance and energy efficiency improvement programs. Call 1-877-NYSMART (1-877-697-6278) or visit www.nyserda.ny.gov.
      • NYS Homes and Community Renewal (NYSHCR) oversees the New York’s Weatherization Assistance Program. Call 1-866-275-3427 or visit www.nyshcr.org/programs/weatherizationassistance
      • NYS Electric and Natural Gas Utilities offer a variety of energy efficiency programs to help their customers reduce their energy use. Contact your utility and ask about its available programs.
    Home Energy Assessment:
    One of the things that you can do to control your bill is to find out where you are losing energy and money. You can conduct an energy audit of your home or apartment that will help show where problems exist and how they can be corrected.

    Professional Assessments: New York State agencies and some utilities offer home energy assessments at little to no cost. A licensed contractor will come to your home and evaluate your lighting, heating, cooling equipment and appliances, and offer energy-saving recommendations. With some programs the contractor will install energy-saving items at no charge, including LED bulbs, smart power strips and more.

      • New York Statewide Programs: Visit NYSERDA’s website at www.nyserda.ny.gov.
      • Utility Programs: Contact your utility to see if it offers a home energy assessment.
    Do-It-Yourself Assessments: There are many do-it-yourself audits available on-line, such as the US Department of Energy’s on-line Energy-and Cost- Savings Calculators to identify ways to save energy in your home. You can also conduct a do it yourself energy audit.


    Back to Top


    Winter Safety

    In addition to tips on managing winter costs, this winter preparedness guide includes information to help ensure that consumers heat their home safely.

    There are steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe during the winter heating season, including preparing for weather-related outages; using precautions with alternative heating systems such as generators, kerosene heaters and fireplaces; and assisting people with special needs who may be particularly vulnerable during an outage.

    Preparing Your Home

    Winter Tips: Take the time now to get your home ready for the winter season by following these tips:

      • Have your heating system checked annually by a professional. This will ensure that your system is working safely and efficiently which, in turn, will save you money. If you heat by wood, clean your fireplace or stove. Have your chimney flue checked for any buildup of creosote and then cleaned to lessen the risk of fire.
      • Replace batteries of smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors. If you did not do it when you set the clocks back, do it now.
      • Keep pipes from freezing by wrapping in insulation, UL approved heat tape, or layers of old newspapers and covering newspapers in plastic to keep out moisture. Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.
      • Gather and store emergency supplies, including:
          • A battery-operated radio and flashlight, as well as a supply of batteries, candles and matches.
          • Water, medications and foods that don’t require refrigeration or cooking
          • A telephone that does not require electricity to operate
          • A list of emergency telephone numbers
          • Extra blankets, coats, hats, and gloves
          • A first aid kit and manual
          • A fire extinguisher
    Staying Warm Indoors

    Safety Tips: If your heat goes out during a winter storm, follow these tips:

      • Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.
      • Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a cap.
      • Close off rooms you do not need.
      • Know the signs of hyperthermia (shivering, drowsiness, slowness) and how to treat it (wrap the person in warm clothing, move to a warm location and seek medical help).
      • Check on people with special needs (elderly or dependent on life-sustaining or health-related equipment such as ventilators and respirators).
    Taking Precautions

    Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas that also be produced by poorly vented generators, kerosene heaters, gas grills and other items used for cooking and heating when used improperly during the winter months. Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:

      • DO NOT operate generators indoors; the motor emits deadly carbon monoxide gas.
      • DO NOT use charcoal to cook indoors. It, too, can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide gas.
      • DO NOT use your gas oven to heat your home -- prolonged use of an open oven in a closed house can create carbon monoxide gas.
      • Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
      • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (sleepiness, headaches and dizziness). If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, ventilate the area and get to a hospital.
    Alternative Heating Sources

    Fire Hazards are greatly increased in the winter because alternate heating sources are often used without proper safety precautions.

    Generator Safety – follow the generator safety guidelines such as those listed in this publication when operating a generator

    Fire Safety:
      • Always keep a screen around an open flame
      • Never use gasoline to start your fireplace
      • Never burn charcoal indoors.
      • Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
      • When using alternative heat sources such as a fireplace, wood stove, etc. always make sure you have proper ventilation.
      • Keep curtains, towels and potholders away from hot surfaces.
      • Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup -- and then clean it.
      • Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors ... and make sure they work!
      • Establish a well-planned escape route with the entire family.

    Kerosene Heaters – If you use kerosene heaters to supplement your regular heating fuel, or as an emergency source of heat, follow these safety tips:
      • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
      • Use only the correct fuel for your unit.
      • Refuel outdoors ONLY and only when the unit is cool.
      • Keep the heater at least three feet away from furniture and other flammable objects.
      • When using the heater, use fire safeguards and ventilate properly.
    Back to Top

    Page updated 11.10.2021




    See other web pages in the category: Other