Jan 29, 2013 by Alagasco

Groundhog Day and Average Monthly Billing

 This Saturday, February 2, is the special day of the year that we all turn to a burrowing, furry butterball to answer the most sought after question… Will there be six more weeks of winter? Will the pudgy cheeked, Punxsutawney see his shadow?

If you stop and think about it, Groundhog Day is a peculiar celebration marked on our calendars that has become the pivotal date for determining the length of winter. Are we almost done with winter? Is spring around the corner? And, we rely on a groundhog to answer those questions!

In actuality, whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, we still officially have six (and a half) more weeks of winter. This is the turning point of the season, and for pre-industrial societies (particularly farmers), the midwinter date was a day to take stock and determine whether you have enough food and firewood to last the rest of the winter. If you miscalculated, or you found that the grain is full of weevils and your cow was starting to look a little skinny, you had good reason to look for signs of an early spring.

Interestingly, the reason Groundhog Day is celebrated in the U.S. on February 2 dates back to the 1700s when German settlers brought with them a tradition known as Candlemas Day. Many believed that Candlemas Day (February 2) predicted the weather for the rest of the winter. Old Candlemas proverbs express the idea that a fine bright sunny Candlemas Day means that there is more winter to come, whereas a cloudy wet Candlemas Day means that the worst of winter is over.

The groundhog was brought into the tradition by German settlers in Pennsylvania who found groundhogs to be in great abundance (a lot like our southern abundance of squirrels). Resembling the European hedgehog, which was thought to be a highly intelligent and sensible animal, the German settlers decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog, would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

Since the early 1700s we’ve made great advancements in weather predictions and don’t really need to rely on a groundhog or sunny day to ascertain whether the next six weeks are going to be frigid or pleasant, but like the farmers hundreds of years of ago, winter takes a toll on all of us, and we all look forward to milder temperatures and sunnier days.

Days are shorter in the winter, crazy snow days like last week creep up on us  – wreaking havoc on our commutes home and our heating bills go up because we want to stay warm. Groundhog Day gives us a little encouragement that it will all be over soon.

At Alagasco, while we can’t predict whether Punxsutawney will see his shadow, we can certainly help make your gas bill more predictable. Alagasco offers Average Monthly Billing (AMB), which spreads your gas costs throughout the year using an average bill amount making what you pay each month more predictable.

So how does AMB work? Once you have lived in your home for 12 months, the annual bill amount is calculated and spread out over a 12-month period. More than likely your gas usage is not going to fluctuate much year-after-year unless your usage patterns change (new addition to the family, new appliances, etc).

The average monthly bill amount may fluctuate slightly if your usage increases or decreases, but with AMB you can certainly have a better idea of what your gas bill is going to be, making it much easier to budget. And, with AMB your gas bill becomes more predictable and less reliant on a groundhog!

To learn more about AMB or to enroll, call 1-800-292-4008.


Alagasco, your natural gas partner, provides clean, energy efficient natural gas to approximately 437,000 homes, businesses and industries in central and north Alabama. To report a gas leak, a line break, or any other gas service emergency, please call 1-800-292-4008. For other inquiries about your account, service or billing, you can reach us via email or phone.

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