WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | Weather

So far heating costs have been down in the Chippewa Valley this winter

The return to winter this week will make for some unhappy customers when they see their next heating bill. Xcel Energy says November through March is their typical heating season and they've been seeing a real decrease in the total bill that people pay for people who heat their homes with natural gas.

This winter has been tame compared to last year and we've been reaping the rewards when it comes time to pay the heating bill.

"It was probably about 20 dollars higher last year a month," says Sara Bueller.

"The amount on utility bills has been a welcome surprise when you go to pay, and the bills are considerably less," says Jeff Doering.

"The winter of 2011 and 2012 compared to the winter of 10 and 11. Bills are down about %20 percent from this time a year ago and their usage is down about %16 percent which is pretty significant,” explained Brian Elwood with Xcel Energy. He says although natural gas prices are at historic lows it's not much lower than last year. The bigger impact he says is usage.

"In addition demand is way down. It's not only been warmer throughout the upper Midwest where we live, but it's been warmer throughout the country," says Elwood.

The Salvation Army says this isn't really the time of year it sees people using its heating assistance program. Xcel energy follows the cold weather rule until April 15th where they can’t shut off a customer’s heat. Elwood says over the past few years due to the economy they have seen more people needing help. "Talk to one of our representatives if you're having economic hardship. Please let us know we got resources here at Xcel Energy."

And people worry this cold front will not only bring the cold and snow but also higher bills. "At my age you're looking forward to nicer weather. So today now is a reality check for all of us," says Doering.

The long term forecast unfortunately does look colder but Xcel Energy wants to be very clear that if you need help give them a call. The number to call them for assistance is 1-800-894-4999.

The link below is to heat and energy saving tips from Xcel Energy.

Xcel Energy Heat Saving Tips


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