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Heating bills expected to rise again: winter forecast

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According to a new forecast, heating bills for U.S. households could rise significantly this winter — and prices could jump 34%.

The estimated increase would mark the second year in a row that renters and homeowners across the country have significantly increased their heating bills. Natural gas customers are expected to see the biggest price increases, but your bills are likely to go up no matter what type of system you have.

Experts don’t expect the cost to increase because winter is expected to be particularly cold. Conversely, higher energy costs will make it more expensive to keep your home warm.

Average heating costs for the next season are expected to be $1,202, according to a forecast released this week by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA). That compares to an average cost of $1,025 last year and $888 the year before.

The forecasts will make home heating costs, on average, 17% higher than last winter and 35% higher than two years ago. These figures are significantly higher than headline inflation, which rose 8.3 percent year-on-year in August.

How much will my heating bill increase?

Heating costs may rise across the board, but especially for customers using natural gas, the most common form of heating in the U.S.

By fuel type, heating costs are expected to rise this winter:

  • Natural gas, 34.3%
  • Electricity, 6.9%
  • Heating oil, 12.8%
  • Propane, 15.2%

Even after the expected price increase, natural gas heating will likely remain the cheapest type of system this winter. For natural gas customers, the average winter heating cost is expected to be $952 (up from $709 last winter), while the average electric heating cost is expected to be $1,328 this season (up from $1,242 last winter).

According to NEADA, when this winter turns warm, many Americans will find they are being charged more than they have at any time in the past decade.

“Home heating costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable for millions of low-income households,” NEADA officials said. “Rising home energy costs this winter will put millions of low-income households at risk of falling behind on their energy bills, leaving them with no choice but to make difficult decisions between paying food, medicine and rent.”

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How can I save on heating bills?

To avoid brutal heating bills, there are tried and true measures to reduce energy costs during the cold season.

One of the easiest solutions is to turn the thermostat down when you’re away from home, and lower the temperature when you’re sleeping under a warm blanket.

You should always ensure that heating equipment such as radiators and furnaces are properly maintained. Before winter weather hits, it might be a good time to clean your heating unit or replace a dirty filter.

Sealing up air leaks in your home—the perfect project to do in early fall, before the weather gets colder—in addition to using curtains strategically in winter can also improve efficiency.

If you want to get serious about your bills this winter, you can read more about strategies to save on heating bills here.