Reporting Edward Moody
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Heating costs hit record lows because of last year’s mild winter, but predictions of a “normal” season this year could mean a big increase.
Minnesota’s Energy Department estimates a rise in heating bills: 20 percent for houses using oil, 15 percent for natural gas customers, 13 percent for propane and 5 percent for electricity.
The price of natural gas is only predicted to rise less than a percent over last year, but the experts at Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning say anything can happen.
“We’re on the low end now, but they do fluctuate, so who knows,” said owner Dennis O’Brien.
O’Brien says saving starts with a good furnace tune up for peak performance.
“If you have a 95 percent efficient furnace, but it’s not working up to its potential you’re wasting money,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien also says make sure your home’s “envelope” is well sealed. That means good insulation — especially in the attic — and tight seals around doors and windows.
Then there’s the thermostat. A programmable model could save you 20 percent in heating costs.
When it comes down to it, natural gas and propane costs aren’t really going to be the issue — the cold weather is. So, taking those steps is your best bet.
As for people using heating oil, global demand for crude oil and instability in the middle east could send prices to record highs.