Even though summer’s just started, energy companies are already trying to find natural gas supplies for next winter’s heating season. Mark Reinders, a spokesman for MidAmerican Energy, says early indications show winter heating costs will be going up — sharply.

"The natural gas prices started to climb right at the end of last winter season and they’ve stayed there, unfortunately, heading into the summertime as well as we’re looking forward to next winter," Reinders says. "Our projections right now are for about 25-percent higher for residential customers." He says they have calculated the expense for the average homeowner.

He says for the last heating season, the average customer paid about $863, so with the predicted 25% cost hike, that would be around $1,100 dollars for the coming winter. Reinders says those projected costs are based on today’s conditions — which are constantly changing.

"Maybe there is some kind of a price-lowering miracle out there, but yes, there are a lot of variables in there, of hurricanes and flooding and all those kinds of things," he says. "There’s just not enough natural gas supply out there to meet the demand of everybody and that’s what seems to be driving the higher prices." MidAmerican serves about 550,000 customers in Iowa and is the state’s largest utility.