Expect to Pay More this Winter...
Natural Gas Heating Bills Will be Bigger, But Supplies Are Okay

Heating costs are rising dramatically

In June, it looked like natural gas could be in short supply this winter - and carry premium prices. With the onset of Fall, some of those predictions have changed: supplies are adequate to meet the needs, but prices will definitely be higher than last year. At this point, weather is the biggest "unknown" factor which could impact both supplies and prices. Whether prices top the peak period of winter 2001-2002, remains to be seen.

This winter's residential natural gas prices are expected to be 10 to 15 percent higher than last year. At the end of August, the East Region, which includes Nebraska, had an inventory of 1,418 billion cubic feet which is only seven percent below the five-year average for the region. Eastern Nebraskans served by Aquila will be paying even more because the utility has also increased rates, which are being reviewed. For those who want to monitor natural gas supply and price information, the Energy Office web site, , provides updates every month.

According to experts at the Energy Information Administration, the long-range view for natural gas is volatility, both on prices and supplies.

Need Help or Can't Pay?
If you — or someone you know — has struggled in the past with winter heating

Citizens with limited incomes can receive assistance

bills, there may be a solution before the bills get out of hand. There are several alternatives for those Nebraskans who have had difficulty paying for heating bills:
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is available to those with limited incomes. Grants to help pay for the cost of heating may be available from the state's Department of Health and Human Services. To find out more about grants to pay utility bills can be found at http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/fia/energy.htm
  • The Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program makes improvements in homes so that less energy is used and utility bills are reduced. These services cannot help with unpaid utility bills, but could be effective in reducing the heating bills for next winter. While weatherization services are free, access to services is based on income. Current income limits are listed at wx/incomelimits.htm
    • The types of improvements typically made on most homes are listed at wx/improvements.htm
    • To find out the weatherization services provider closest to you, click on wx/localcontacts.htm which will take you to an interactive map of the state. Simply click on the county where you live to locate the nearest office where you can apply for weatherization services.
  • If your income level is greater than the program allows, you can find energy saving, utility billing shaving ideas at the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Savers web site http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/
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