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Expect an expensive winter, government energy agency says

Natural gas, electricity, propane and heating oil prices are all up.

MINNEAPOLIS — The Winter Fuels Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is bleak like the winter that may be approaching us.

The EIA says with prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas, propane and electricity, consumers could see their heating bills jump as much as 54%, compared to last winter. 

The cause? Hard to pinpoint, but it's in part because demand has increased from recent lows, faster than supply.

For example, natural gas is at the highest winter price since 2007-2008 -- meaning Americans will pay an average of $746 this winter for heating...30% more than a year ago.

For the Midwest that might be upwards of 49% higher than last winter.

Knowing this, Ian Werner from HERO Plumbing Heating and Cooling is bracing for what comes like clockwork every year.

"Mid October is typically when we see a huge influx of people finally starting to turn on their equipment, noticing that it's not working," Werner said.

Busy season is upon them and the burden is feeling like a heavier lift because supply chain issues have also caused them to just now be able to catch up to demand for parts too.

"We've gotten up to five or six price increases just in the last five months," he said. "On top of that, some of those increases have come in incremental increases, whether it be a 5 to 15% increase, but on some of these items that we're getting where there is a massive shortage, we are seeing upwards of 200 to 300% increases in our costs."

And who will be paying for those price increases? Consumers.

"This industry is based off of helping people and there's not a ton of profit in this industry," Werner said. "When our prices go up, we have to hand it down to the customer so we can stay in business."

So we can't control the weather, nor can we control the production rate of energy sources.

Werner says this winter, on top of making sure your furnace or boiler is running efficiently, you can make some lasting changes.

"We have to keep that heat inside the home. We lose heat to leaky windows, leaky doors, and a lack of insulation in the home," he said. "Attic insulation is huge, reports are showing it could be an average of $750 more just to pay for gas needed to heat homes this winter. Take that money, put in some added insulation. If you can't get new windows, throw plastic over the windows, it works."