Home heating costs could increase significantly this winter

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It was a beautiful day to enjoy what will likely be one of the final rounds of golf this fall for three friends. However, they know what’s coming.

"I heard it from a couple guys at work and I was not sure if it was true or not, and was certainly hoping it wasn’t," John Powell said.

Economists are predicting high heating costs this winter. Mike Richards says he’ll make it through the season, but it if lasts longer, he’ll be making changes.

"We turn it down at night and crank it up in the morning and snuggle up on the couch in the evening, and maybe throw an extra sweatshirt on this year," Richards shared.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects all major home heating fuels will increase significantly this winter due to higher fuel costs and more consumption.

Compared to last winter, those prices could go up by 54% for propane, 43% for heating oil and 30% for natural gas, depending on where you live and the weather.

In Minnesota, Xcel Energy announced a proposed rate hike of roughly 20% for residential electricity customers.

Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold says the best thing to do is have a home energy assessment to see where you can save money in your home, and also use appliances wisely.

"Things that use a lot of energy, if we use them when other people aren’t using energy, it lowers the price for the energy. For example, laundry at night is a good example or hanging things to dry instead of using the dryer," Arnold said.

Arnold says if you think you may need help with bills this year, reach out to your utility provider and ask. She says there’s an additional $167 million in energy assistance funds from the federal government this year.

"We are trying to get the word out that there is assistance available and not just short-term assistance, but assistance to make sure your bills are lower in the future," Arnold said.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce website has income qualifications for assistance as well as additional ideas on ways to save money on heating this winter.