Heating costs expected to rise this winter

Winter is on the way and consumers will be paying more to heat their homes as compared to last year, experts say.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, consumers are expected to see prices increase for propane heat, electric, heating oil and natural gas.

Natural gas households are expected to see the highest increase, at about 28%. That number will rise if it’s a particularly cold winter.

“It was a very hot summer, so electric companies drew down supplies of natural gas, then on top of that, the OPEC countries have decided to reduce supply and that’s going to push up costs this coming winter,” Mark Wolfe, National Energy Assistance Directors Association Executive Director, told NBC News. Wolfe said that prices could ease up if we have a mild winter. And, if the war in Ukraine ends, there could be less pressure on supplies.

Under Pennsylvania law, natural gas companies are not able to profit off of the actual cost of natural gas.

“Natural gas costs themselves are passed onto consumer dollar for dollar,” said Lee Gierczynski, spokesman for Columbia Gas.

Gierczynski told Channel 11 that consumers should check with their utility company to inquire about assistance programs.

He said Columbia offers several, from flexible payment options to grants. For details, visit www.ColumbiaGasPA.com/assistance.

Columbia is also among the companies that offer energy audits, in which an inspector can visit your home and recommend ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Some tips consumers may want to consider include closing curtains to keep heat in, and turning ceiling fans to spin clockwise to push warm air down. Consumers can also consider a programmable thermostat that will automatically lower the temperature during the hours in which they are not at home. Investing in better insulation, to prevent heat loss through attics, walls and windows, can also save money.

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