YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - Homeowners may be surprised by their heating bills this winter.
The costs are expected to go up for users of natural gas, electric and propane. Natural gas is expected to go up the most, about 13 percent, according to government forecasts.
An average annual bill for gas users will be approximately $679. Dominion East Ohio said the reason for the increase is simply supply and demand.
"We have seen a shift in demand for natural gas. Many of the coal-fired electric plants are being shut down to comply with EPA regulations. They are turning to natural gas as an alternative fuel for electricity, so that is increasing the demand," said Dominion spokesman Neil Durbin.
Although consumers will see a high percentage increase, prices still will be 4 percent cheaper on average over the past five winters.
Consumers who heat their home with electric will see an approximate 2 percent increase, according to government forecasts. Home heating oil customers actually will see a drop of 2 percent, but that will set up to be the second most expensive year on record.
"More and more generators are turning to natural gas and that is creating an increase in demand and the supply has not kept pace," Durbin said. "Oil is the most volatile commodity, and natural gas is probably second most, so again we would urge Dominion East customers to continue to search and try to find the best prices they can."
With heating bills on the rise, that means that more people in the area could need help paying their heating bills but the only problem is changes to the Home Energy Assistance Program provided by the Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership could mean less people receiving those benefits.
"What happens is you are seeing the price of gas going up, but there is another issue, that the guidelines for those who are eligible has decrease, meaning if you were a single person, you could make $22,000 last year, but this year, you can only make $20,000," said MYCAP Outreach and Communications Director Al Stabilito.
Stabilito said the income changes are for every bracket that HEAP offers. Here is the breakdown:
- 1-person household: $20,108 gross annual household income
- 2-person household: $27,143 gross annual household income
- 3-person household: $34,178 gross annual household income
- 4-person household: $41,213 gross annual household income
- 5-person household: $48,248 gross annual household income
- 6-person household: $55,283 gross annual household income
- 7-person household: $62,318 gross annual household income
- 8-person household: $69,353 gross annual household income
Applications for heating assistance will be taken after Nov. 1. For more information, click here.
A fast moving weather system will bring light snow to the area early Tuesday.
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