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Posted: 1:06 p.m. Monday, Aug. 13, 2012

Natural gas prices on the decline

But what you pay at the pump rises on fears about Israel and Iran



By Clark Howard


I've got great news for wintertime and what it will cost you to stay warm.

Most of the nation heats with natural gas. The good news is that prices are down this year again. In addition, we have an oversupply of this clean-burning domestically sourced fuel thanks to new extraction methods.

Our natural gas supply in so large that we are basically becoming the OPEC of natural gas. The little blue flame has so many benefits, including less pollution when used and the fact that no refining is necessary when we get natural gas out of the ground.

All of these factors have created a situation where The Wall Street Journal reports the wholesale price of natural gas is down to lows last seen some 20 years ago.

You may be able to lock in a low price for the entire heating season!
In 25 states, you can comparison-shop for the best prices on natural gas, because prices are set by the open marketplace, rather than by regulators.  If you live in one of these states,  you should take advantage of this savings opportunity by locking in a low price for 6 months or a year. (See if your state is deregulated.) If  your state is deregulated, Google your state's Public Service Commission and compare the various providers. If you live in Georgia, see Clark's Natural Gas Guide for an up-to-date list of providers and prices.

Natural gas is, I believe, our best alternative to stinking, dirty coal. Coal creates enormous air pollution and has caused an epidemic of childhood asthma. Not so with natural gas. It burns clean and doesn't have those health issues involved, though I know I'll hear from people who are concerned about the safety of natural gas.

Meanwhile, what you pay for gasoline may be headed in the opposite direction from natural gas prices. The possibility that Israel will attack Iran is having a strong effect on the price of oil. Plus, some local issues with refineries have lead to local spikes in price. To give you some perspective, gas prices have round-tripped back to where they were a year ago.

That means next time you buy a vehicle, you should look at getting something more fuel efficient. And remember, don't dump your old gas guzzler "just because."  Wait until it's reached the natural end of its life!