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.
Another area of low pressure will send snow to the Valley. That snow will change over to a wintry mix Sunday night which could lead to slick roads.
An East Liverpool police officer preparing to tow an illegally licensed vehicle Friday found something more than he expected: a box of holiday-themed crack cocaine.
Christmas officially kicked off Saturday in the city of Youngstown.
A new burger was crowned "king" of the Mahoning Valley Saturday.
A fashion show was held in Warren Saturday to help children who are living in a shelter.
Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning County dedicated its 39th house on Saturday. It's been a long journey to get to this day, including the cleanup after vandals and thieves threatened the project.
Eastern Gateway Community College in Youngstown held an open house Saturday. The event is just one of many the school will be hosting to attract more students.
The sounds of the holiday season could be heard in Niles Saturday as a Valley tradition returned to the Eastwood Mall.
American Red Cross workers stayed busy Saturday at a holiday blood drive in Boardman.
UPDATE: A Canfield student won big on national television Saturday.
Allegiant Airlines will begin charging a fee for printing boarding passes beginning May 1, 2014.
Several hundred fans made the trip to Massillon to cheer on the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney football team as it went for its ninth state championship.
A Salem woman was arrested on a drug charge after a raid at her home on Thursday.
After 40 years, Dr. Richard Billak, who started the Community Corrections Association, is retiring at the end of December.
A group of local drug store workers spent part of their day giving back to some of the area's less fortunate.
The Youngstown Air Reserve Station confirmed Friday that the "Thunder Over the Valley" air show will return in the spring.