Expect bigger heating bills this year

Remember, last winter was particularly warm though.

This week the temperatures dropped, frosting over most of Minnesota Wednesday night.

And now we've got some bad news: you're going to have to pay more to keep your home warm and toasty this year. Possibly up to 40 percent more than last year.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Winter Fuels Outlook Thursday and the numbers aren't friendly.

This winter is expected to be colder and snowier than last year's, and heating cost predictions are based on that forecast.

According to the EIA, nearly half of all U.S. households use natural gas for heat. And natural gas is expected to cost 30 percent more in the Midwest than it did last year.

If you use heating oil, your prices are going up the most at 38 percent more than last year. That means households that use heating oil will spend an average of $378 more.

Propane – which about 5 percent of U.S. households use – is expected to cost 30 percent more.

If you just use electricity, you're in luck because that will only increase about 8 percent.

Of course, those costs could be lower if this winter turns out to be milder than forecast. Or it could cost more if it's colder.

But last year was unusually warm

While the numbers seem intimidating, the EIA reminds people that last year's temperatures were particularly high.

"Winter heating expenditures for most fuels were especially low last winter, when energy prices were relatively low and warm weather reduced heating demand to the lowest level nationally in at least 25 years," the EIA says in a Facebook post.

In fact, it's been said that last winter was the warmest ever recorded in America.

However, it was the 6th warmest for Minnesota.

So when you compare this year's projected heating costs to those of recent years (except last year), numbers look pretty normal.

"Although expenditures for nonelectric fuels are expected to be higher than last winter, expenditures are comparable to or lower than the average winters from 2010–11 through 2014–15," the EIA says.

But it's not winter yet

Although it's been a cold week, things will be warming up for a bit.

The National Weather Service says the Twin Cities and southern parts of the state could see temperatures up to 75 degrees this weekend.

Mild temperatures are expected to carry over into next week.

Even though it’s not expected to be that cold, Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule starts up on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The rule makes sure people who struggle to pay their bills still have heat during the coldest months.

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Last year's crazy warm Minnesota winter would've made even a Scrooge smile at the pint-sized heating bills it produced. Don't expect another winter like that. The Energy Department says this year's bills will likely be 20 percent higher if you heat with oil; only five percent more if you use electricity.

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