(Colorado News Connection) The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that Coloradans will be paying considerably more to heat their homes this winter, because of rising fuel costs.
People in rural parts of the state could take the biggest hit, with propane prices expected to rise by 55%. Natural gas is projected to cost about $700 to $1,000 per household on average during the winter months, a 30% increase over last winter.
Denise Stepto, chief communications officer with Energy Outreach Colorado, said it's not too early to start conserving energy.
"Lower your thermostat at night when you go to bed," said Stepto. "It may sound like it's cold if you lower it to 64, but that is not going to let your pipes freeze. You can put more blankets on, but it really does save money."
Stepto said turning down your thermostat when you're not at home can make a big difference.
To keep warm air in and cold air out, seal drafty windows with tape, and put rolled-up towels at the bottom of doors. To find out if you qualify for professional weatherization assistance, help catching up on overdue utility bills or other assistance this winter, visit 'energyoutreach.org.'
For many, opening a utility bill can be a frightening experience, especially during winter months. But Stepto said it's important to review your household energy use every month.
"Being able to watch those things is really going to make a difference in you taking control of how much energy you're using," said Stepto, "and therefore how much money you're going to have to spend."
Stepto said if people know they are going to have trouble paying off a utility bill, there are important steps to take to ensure that service is not cut off.
"If people start to see that they are falling behind, and they know they won't be able to keep up with their utility bill," said Stepto, "the wisest thing to do is - number one - contact your utility company and see if there is a payment plan that you can get on right away."