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Xtra Cash From Xcel: What to Do With the $17 the Utility Plans to Save You in February

Recognize this couple? They're on some of your Xcel bills, although we think this depicts a more realistic reaction to the most recent version that for almost everyone was double what it had been.
Recognize this couple? They're on some of your Xcel bills, although we think this depicts a more realistic reaction to the most recent version that for almost everyone was double what it had been. Getty Images/Westword Photo Illustration
Huge news: Xcel Energy announced that it has big plans to save residential customers $17.79 on their February bills owing to a decrease in wholesale natural gas prices.

Customers pay the actual commodity price of natural gas on their bills. Every three months, utilities submit commodity adjustments to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission based on how much they spent on natural gas. On January 17, Xcel announced that it has filed an interim fuel price adjustment with the PUC because natural gas prices went down nationwide. Customers will pay $0.6076 per therm in February and March instead of the $0.7931 per therm they’re paying in January.

Xcel filed a similar downward adjustment in November, which impacted December bills. The company claimed the adjustment would save residential customers an average of $33 on their bills. Despite Westword finding that customer bills ballooned by an average of $140, the savings were there.

One Westword reader saved $44 thanks to the price adjustment. Another saved $29.73. Yet another saved $24.65. The feeling of those savings is similar to seeing grocery stores' triumphant announcement of how much you saved at the bottom of your receipt. Sure, it’s nice that you didn’t have to spend even more, but you still had to swipe your card.

Of note, those savings to customers would have come in some shape or form and don’t impact Xcel’s bottom line. The company isn’t sacrificing profit with the interim adjustments; it’s adjusting prices to accurately reflect the situation instead of accounting for it in future scheduled adjustments or other means.

“Even with the drop in natural gas prices, the cost of natural gas remains higher than it has been in recent years, so Xcel Energy encourages customers to take advantage of the range of energy-efficiency programs and saving tips the company offers to help customers manage their energy use and keep their bills as low as possible,” Xcel said in its announcement.

At least the company is aware that $17.79 isn’t everything. Regardless, here are some lovingly curated ways you might want to spend that $17:

Three dozen eggs
Anyone with the internet knows that eggs are in short supply and, more important, that those that are available come with a hefty price tag, with some local restaurants grappling with having to charge more to compensate. The good news: With your $17, you can afford to buy eggs to cook at home, or kick in the few extra bucks (plus a generous tip) at a local joint that could use the cash.

Face and eye masks
Opening an Xcel bill these days can cause immense stress. Though self-care can’t really fix your problems, pretending you’re at the spa with a sheet mask and under-eye mask combo could help lower your blood pressure at a moment when you really need it.

Edibles
Speaking of relaxation, some of us might need a little more than a face mask to calm ourselves as the pressures of inflation deflate our lives. Here’s where marijuana comes in handy. For $17 you can usually afford some inexpensive sweet fare that will transport you to another dimension — hopefully one where Xcel bills don’t exist.

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Some folks have shared that they're driving less in order to be able to afford their Xcel bills lately, so we recommend putting the massive $17.79 in savings toward a few extra gallons of gas.
Getty Images

Almost five gallons of gas for your car
According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas in Colorado is $3.514 for regular or $3.867 for standard. Not a bad way to spend those extra savings, particularly when one townhome owner told Westword she’s been cutting back on her driving to be able to afford her Xcel bill.

Fuzzy socks
Another way that Westword readers have been reducing their energy usage is by bundling up in the house. Of course, jackets and blankets are helpful, but there’s something about a pair of fuzzy socks that feels like a treat — and $17 can net a package, enough for the whole family.

Nosebleed tickets to a Denver Nuggets game
When big-name teams come to town, ticket prices rise, but there’s usually one game a week where, even with fees, purchasing a ticket on the resale market can easily be done with $17. Enjoy one of the best teams in the National Basketball Association while sitting comfortably with the knowledge that you’re burning Stan Kroenke’s dollars by spending a few hours enjoying Ball Arena’s heat and electricity rather than your own.

A ticket to the Denver Botanic Gardens
Basketball isn’t for everyone, so if plants are more your speed, head to the Denver Botanic Gardens. A ticket is only $15 for adults, so you’ll get to pocket that extra $2. Maybe you should save it for April, when Xcel is sure to raise rates again.

Pantry staples
Grab rice, beans, flour, sugar, butter and other staples for your pantry. Of course, with the electricity or gas it takes to cook using those items, maybe it would be best to grab some fast food. A Big Mac from McDonald's is $6.39, or $10.49 for a combo. The greasy heartburn can’t possibly make you feel any worse than forking over your hard-earned money to Xcel each month.

One (1) ticket to the movies
Grab a friend who also saved $17 and head to the theaters. Immerse yourself in a world where everyone is beautiful and no one ever thinks about how much the gas bill is going to cost next month.

Eight Colorado Lottery tickets
Most Colorado Lottery games cost $2 per ticket, and at this rate, winning big might be the only hope of making it through the winter.

Happy spending (suffering)!
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Catie Cheshire is a staff writer at Westword. After getting her undergraduate degree at Regis University, she went to Arizona State University for a master's degree. She missed everything about Denver -- from the less-intense sun to the food, the scenery and even the bus system. Now she's reunited with Denver and writing news for Westword.
Contact: Catie Cheshire

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