Natural gas utilities increased their investment in gas efficiency programs to nearly $958 million in 2011, which resulted in a total savings of more than $300 million for U.S. gas customers last year, according to a report issued Wednesday by the American Gas Association (AGA).

Gas customers participating in efficiency programs reduced on average their annual natural gas usage by 13% in 2011 and saved $107 on their yearly gas bills, according to the report, which is based on a 2012 survey of members of the AGA and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency.

In 2011, U.S. customers saved nearly 125 trillion Btu through gas efficiency programs, a 55% hike from the 81 trillion Btu in 2010, thus avoiding 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, said the association, which represents gas utilities.

Natural gas utilities are continuing to increase their commitment to delivery energy savings, according to AGA. In 2012, the utilities budgeted nearly $1.4 billion for efficiency programs, which was 46% more than in 2011.

Added to low domestic gas prices, which have led to savings of nearly $35 billion for residential gas customers over the past three years, efficiency programs have helped to ensure that gas remains the best value fuel for consumers, the utility group said.

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