Heating problem already hot

Ohio is already known for its harsh winters, but off-campus students have used heat much earlier this year. With the first snowfall of the year coming last week and many having already taken their coats from the depths of their closets, the cost of gas to heat apartments and homes is a familiar problem for some.

The clashing of personalities is especially difficult for some students, since other finances come into play when deciding on how high – or low – the heat should be kept at during the cooler seasons.

The latest press release from Columbia Gas of Ohio says that compared to this time last year, gas prices will actually be lower. About $25 will be shaved off the bills of consumers on average.

Regardless, many students off campus face problems with the amount they’ll still be paying.

Rachel Coman, senior, said that living off campus is difficult in general, as many students such as her may already have financial burdens to deal with.

“Living off campus is kind of difficult,” said Coman.

As for how Coman and her roommates deal with individual preferences for heat, she says “not everyone agrees on how high the heat should be… I just want to keep the heat at a reasonable level.”

But what exactly do students pay for in their monthly gas bill?

Several factors contribute to those fateful numbers printed on a bill other than the natural gas itself. Acquiring the gas and making it available contribute to the price, as gas companies must make it available to all consumers within their jurisdiction.

Columbia Gas of Ohio, the largest natural gas supplier in the state, provides gas for over a million customers. In order to fulfill the needs of consumers, the gas is transported through pipelines to wherever it’s needed, which increases the cost when considering consumers at the very end of the service radius.

The cost of the gas itself is influenced by supply and demand. Long bouts of cold can easily increase the demand for gas, since almost every consumer is expected to increase their use of gas to compensate for the chillier temperatures.

Jenna Kary, senior, says that trying to conserve money is her top priority when it comes to how much gas used.

“Not using heat unless it’s necessary,” says Kary, is the key to conquering gas bill woes in the coming months.

Despite the early onset of cold temperatures this year, the Climate Prediction Center has predicted above average or near normal temperatures for our region. Though this may be a sigh of relief for many consumers of natural gas, the overall winter average does not necessarily reflect the day-to-day forecast. As with any winter, unexpected weather conditions will have many turning the dial up on their heat often until March or even April.

Kary, however, says that being smart about money management is the key to dealing with gas costs when the weather gets cold.