Heating costs expected to rise 15 to 20 percent

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ALTOONA, Wisc. (WEAU) - Heating costs are on the rise, with Xcel Energy expecting a 15 to 20 percent spike compared to last year for natural gas customers.

Tammy Azahares of Altoona said her electric bill, which includes heat, costs her several hundred dollars a month.

But she said she worries what about rising costs, when the temperatures drop.

"Right now, I don't even turn my heat on, my house is cold. Because I'm not turning it on 'til I have to turn it on," Azahares said. "A lot of people can't afford to pay any more for their bills. People are struggling in this economy right now, and I can't afford it."

"Remember, last winter was really warm, it was a gift, and this winter, assuming that we return to normal weather conditions, we're expecting an increase in usage and then of course, an increase in customer bills," Xcel Energy spokesperson Liz Wolf Green said.

"We have a small house, so we save that way, we just plan for the potential for things to go wrong so that we can have a little cushion," Randy Brierton of Altoona said.

But Wolf Green said there are things you can do to save on those energy bills.

"Changing your furnace filters, weatherizing, insulating, sealing, all those kinds of things can have an impact on your heating season costs," she said.

"Plenty of extra blankets, that's what I tell my mom. And she says she's cold, I say 'Grab a blanket,'" Azahares said. "If it's gonna go up, it's gonna go up. I can't stop it. That's part of life."

For energy saving tips go to: http://tinyurl.com/9nfpe3s.

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