CINCINNATI — Homeowners are starting to worry about this winter's heating bills, with natural gas prices more than doubling in 2021.
Duke Energy has just announced that those soaring prices will impact our bills starting this month, raising its rate to $0.713 per hundred cubic feet of natural gas as of Oct. 1.
That is its highest level since 2014, and twice what we were paying last fall.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Sally Thelen warns that many homeowners could experience sticker shock after last year's relatively low heating bills.
"Let's say they paid $100 for their gas cost last December," Thelen said. "There's the potential for some of these swings in pricing this winter to be in the $150 amount, even $170 or $180."
At Woods Hardware in Downtown Cincinnati, Tom Frazier was getting nervous about the cost of heating.
"I think everybody is concerned, just like with prices at the grocery store. Everything is going up," Frazier said.
What you can do in your home
So with it looking that your winter heating bill could be $50, even $100 a month, higher this year, you might want to stop in your local hardware store and talk to them about insulation -- and other ways to lower that bill.
Woods Hardware's Mark Gay said a spray bottle of expanding foam is cheap (less than $10) and effective if you have cracks around windows or foundations.
If you have gaps around doors where cold air comes in, he suggested buying stick-on foam strips for under your doors, also under $10.
"If there is a gap as the door closes, then I can sell you some foam that goes from top to bottom," Gay said.
Old single-pane window? Today's window film is also cheap and nearly invisible, Gay said.
"You can see through it once you have it up," he said.
Even billing, alternate gas suppliers
Meantime, Duke suggests signing up for Budget Billing (sometimes called even billing), where you spread your winter payments out over the whole year, paying the same amount each month.
But beware super low teaser rates that go up after a couple of months. Those may provide false savings, and raise your price higher than Duke's by January. Ideally, look for a six-month plan.
Back at Woods Hardware, Tom Frazier worries about his elderly neighbors this winter, saying "everything right now is very expensive."
As always, don't waste your money.
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