You might have noticed an unfamiliar sound in your home this week.
A sort of background hum, soft but consistent.
Your furnace, which has had quite a nice vacation,was awakened from its summer slumber by the first chilly mornings of impending autumn.
For many people, the welcome warmth of air exhaling from grates is tempered by the knowledge that heat isn't cheap.
But for local residents who rely on natural gas to ward off winter's chill, it is at least cheaper.
Or soon will be, anyway.
Cascade Natural Gas, which has several hundred customers in Baker City, has filed a request with the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) to trim its rates by 17.42 percent for residential customers. Cascade proposes cuts of 20 percent to 22 percent for commercial and other customer groups.
The PUC, we're confident in saying, won't say no when it considers Cascade's application in late October.
(The agency is more inclined to balk at requests to increase rates.)
The reduced rates will take effect Nov. 1.
We're not talking about a windfall, of course.
Cascade estimates that a typical residential customer will save about 10 bucks a month.
Still and all, with gasoline pushing $4 a gallon, and food prices expected to rise substantially due to the Midwest drought, knowing that the next cold snap won't siphon quite so much from your budget is not cold comfort.