Americans are expected to spend more heating their home this winter than last year.
More than half of Americans heat their home with natural gas. The Energy Department predicts those homeowners will see a 17 percent jump between the months of October and March. The jump averages out to nearly $700 over the six-month period.
In addition, they estimate that electricity costs will see a 12 percent increase, while heating-oil costs are expected to rise 42 percent nationwide. The government blames the potential price increase on the rising cost of oil, which ultimately affects the cost of a variety of energy products. Sold by the barrel, crude oil prices are up nearly $7 from this time last year. While natural gas is often used as an alternative, a rise in oil almost always translates into higher natural gas prices.
Utilities such as Atmos Energy, formerly Western Kentucky Gas, says the financial forecast may not be as bleak as some think.
Meteorologists at NOAA are forecasting normal to warmer temperatures nationwide, causing us to reach for the thermostat less. A spokesman for Atmos Energy says they've planned ahead. The company has already purchased 50 percent of the natural gas needed and placed it in underground storage.
The Energy Department doesn't expect the price increase to be nearly as bad as the winter of 2000-2001, where the country saw the coolest conditions and highest heating bills in more than a decade.
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Reduce High Heating Costs
1. Plug and seal if you don’t use your fireplace.
2. Keep the damper closed when there is no fire.
3. Check the seal on the damper and make sure it’s snug.
4. Caulk around the hearth.
Source: The U.S. Department of Energy Contributed to this report.