Home heating costs expected to skyrocket this winter
Due to various factors, the federal government expects heating costs to rise significantly this winter, also here in Minnesota.
MINNESOTA, USA – With temperatures dropping to freezing from Thursday to Friday night, many of you in the Twin Cities will be turning on your heating for the first time this season.
Prepare yourself – and your bank account – for a long winter.
Whether you’re using natural gas, electricity, propane, or even heating oil, residential heating bills will rise across the board, according to a report by the US Energy Information Administration earlier this month. In the Midwest in particular, the government is forecasting an increase of around 49% for natural gas customers, 69% for propane and 5% for electricity. In Minnesota, about two-thirds of users have natural gas.
Indeed, a spokesperson for Xcel Energy said, “We would expect the average customer to pay an increase of about $ 165 over the winter due to rising natural gas prices.”
“There are many reasons this is happening,” said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association. “I wish it was just one.”
Wolfe points to a number of factors including the disruption of natural gas pipelines by Hurricane Ida, a hot summer that reduced storage capacity, and the economic recovery from the pandemic that is putting more people on the streets with natural gas in their vehicles. Demand has grown faster than supply can catch up, resulting in higher prices that have been passed on to consumers.
“Down the line you are paying more money for energy,” said Wolfe. “So far only for gasoline. But from this winter also for house energy.”
Get ready to pay more for heat.
With demand rising faster than supply can catch up – plus predictions for a colder winter – heating bills are expected to rise in the Midwest:
– +49 percent for natural gas
– +69 percent for propane
– +5 percent for Elektro @ KARE11 pic.twitter.com/ae2LQglN3w
– Danny Spewak (@DannySpewak) October 22, 2021
In addition to rising prices, state forecasters are also forecasting a colder winter, which will lead to more heat utilization.
“As we go into winter 2021-22,” the US Energy Information Administration wrote in its report, “retail energy prices in the United States will be at or near multi-year highs.”
To reduce consumption, Wolfe suggested calling your utility company to join an energy saving program or take other simple steps, such as:
However, the rise in heating bills this winter will hit low-income customers particularly hard.
Tammy Stauffer, who helps manage the energy aid program with the Community Action Partnership of Hennepin County, said her organization received 8,500 requests for assistance last month, well above last year’s total.
“And they’re still trying to dig where they were during the pandemic,” Stauffer said. “Fair to say it could be a very hard winter for our households.”
RELATED: Expect an expensive winter, says the state energy agency
Still, Stauffer is confident that her organization, along with others who administer the aid program, will have enough money to provide for those in need. The American Rescue Plan Act, passed earlier this year, provided $ 4.5 billion in relief to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
“The balances that we see on (applicant) accounts are very large, but luckily we currently have a lot of money to help as many households as possible,” said Stauffer.
If you have concerns about paying your energy bill, you can contact your local Community Action Partnership or check the state’s website for suppliers. You can also call your utility company.
A spokesman for CenterPoint Energy suggested in an email to KARE 11 that “Any home customer who believes they are unable to pay their winter heating bills due to financial distress should call us now to set up a payment plan and protect themselves from service disruption, according to Minnesota Cold Weather Rule (which applies from October 1st to April 30th). We can also help them connect them to energy support to pay for their heating bills. ”Xcel Energy also works with other utilities to offer similar payment plans and support.
RELATED: Natural Gas Heating Your Home? This could be the most expensive winter in 13 years