National Grid: Expect heating bills to drop this year

If you're wondering how much to budget for this winter's heating bill, we're getting a better idea.

National Grid unveiled its predictions for the cost of heating this winter season at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

The company expects prices to go down this year. Last year, a typical customer who uses 711 therms would have paid $756 from November to March. This year, National Grid says it's down 8 percent. For the same time period, a customer will pay approximately $695.

National Grid says its price estimates are based on current market predictions.

The company made its predictions outside the home of Bill and Mary Rybak, of Fantail Lane in Cicero.

Bill Rybak says he has been focusing on energy efficiency over the past eight years. He has bought a new furnace, roof, and windows to save on his National Grid bill. He says in the winter, his bill has gone from more than $300 to about $250 each month. He says he's excited the company expects rates to drop even more this year.

"Anything that goes down with the current financial straits we're in in this country is always a good thing," says Rybak. "I'm retired now, basically on a fixed income, so it's always a help.

National Grid is encouraging customers to decrease their energy usage by 3% each year over the next 10 years. They're also offering money saving tips for keeping your costs down this winter:

- Set your thermostat down 1 degree. It could save you 1 to 3 percent on your annual bill.- Unplug your appliances when they're not in use.- Rebates are available for Energy Star appliances like furnaces.

National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in the U.S. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern part of the country.

Do you think you pay too much to heat your home or are your bills reasonable? Any money saving tips you've learned over the years? What temperature do you keep your thermostat set at during the summer and winter months? Leave your thoughts below.