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Yes, home heating prices will increase by more than 50% for some this winter

A viewer asks how this is possible if regulators have to approve rate hikes.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — From gas to groceries we know everything costs more right now. Heating your home will be more expensive, too.

According to the Public Utilities Commission, some Ohio consumers will pay as much as 54% more.

A viewer asks how this is possible if regulators have to approve rate hikes.

THE QUESTION:  

Paul Compston writes, "I keep hearing about natural gas prices are going up 30 to 50%. I thought the gas company had to request to the PUCO for a rate increase and get approval. what is true?"

THE SOURCES:

THE ANSWER:

Yes, home heating prices are rising this winter. But isn't it true that rates are regulated? The answer is yes — the distribution portion of the service is regulated.

WHAT WE FOUND: 

“So that's a really great question. There's been a lot of news this fall looking forward to the winter heating season and natural gas and commodity prices are expected to increase,” said Matt Schilling, Director of Public Affairs at Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

How much of an increase from last year depends on what you use and how cold this winter will be.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's winter outlook:
Households that use natural gas will spend as much as 50% more.

Electricity? As much as 15% more.

Propane? 54% to 94% more.

And heating oil? As much as 59% more.

But here's something to consider for context from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio:

When considering the increase in natural gas prices, market rates are still half of what they were in 2008-2012. Thanks to increased production over the last decade, natural gas prices have been at historic lows.

“But the commodity price, the actual natural gas itself, is really a market price,” Schilling said.

So what can you do?

“You can negotiate a price with a supplier to lock in a price for example,” Schilling said. “They will offer fixed rate contracts over a period of time.”

You can also take a look at your energy source options here or work out a payment plan with your supplier.

“Another great option is what is called budget billing,” said Schilling. “This is an arrangement with your utility where your utility will kind of take a forecast, an estimate, of your yearly utility bills and spread them out evenly over a 12 month period.”

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