While a recent monthly survey shows natural gas prices were down compared to last year — a spokesman for the Iowa Utilities Board says prices are expected to remain high this winter. Utilities Board spokesman Rob Hillesland says you should be prepared to pay as much or more than you paid last year to heat your home.

Hillesland says natural gas prices are expected to be around the cost they were last year, and unless there is warmer weather, Hillesland says heating costs will be about what they were last winter. Hillesland says the gas companies figure in several factors in projecting the cost of natural gas for the winter. He says the projection from a large natural gas utility showed the cost of natural gas was 57-cents per therm in 2003, 68-cents in 2004, 79-cents in 2005, and one dollar-eight cents last year. It’s projected to be 91-cents a therm this January.

Hillesland says last year was the highest heating cost season on record –with an estimated cost of 704-dollars to heat an average home from November through March. Hillesland says for this year the estimates compiled by the I-U-B staff from the rate-regulated utilities show it will cost about 706 dollars to heat an average home. Hillesland says that estimate is based on the temperatures being at the 30-year-average — which would be slightly colder than last year. He says if temperatures are warmer, then the cost to heat your home would obviously be less.

Hillesland says there are things you can do to try and ease some of the cost of heating your home. He says you can work with your local utility and take advantage of energy assessments and energy efficiency programs. Hillesland says a few hours of work can help you cut heating costs.

Hillesland says one of the easiest and least expensive things you can do yourself is fill air leaks in your walls using caulk and weather stripping. He says the caulk and weather stripping is available in many hardware stores. For more information, check out the Iowa Utilities Board website at:www.state.ia.us/iub.

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Iowa Utilities Board