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Home heating will likely cost more this winter, but help is available

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 5:31 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - It’s been a volatile week for natural gas. From a spike on Tuesday in a peak we haven’t seen since 2008 to a dip on Wednesday, prices have been on a roller coaster.

Most U.S. homes use natural gas to heat, and it’s the number one fuel source for the country’s electric grid, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

So, when prices go up, it costs more for you to heat your home. But, the North Dakota Department of Commerce is providing financial assistance through a weatherization program.

In a place where temperatures can hit below zero, staying warm in winter is essential for North Dakotans.

Inflation, coupled with rising natural gas prices could make it a financial struggle this coming season.

“It’s going to be a burden on everyone. The high heating costs, like everything else. So, everything else is climbing also. It’s not going to be a good thing,” said Bismarck Resident Leo Bachmeier.

Commodity experts say the U.S. energy price turbulence stems from using excess amounts of natural gas to cool off the abnormally hot summer in the West and Northwest.

Now, there’s concern we won’t have enough for the winter, which is driving prices up.

“At the beginning of October last year, natural gas sold for just under $3 Btu. So obviously, to yesterday’s highs at the opening of October, had more than doubled in value. Ultimately, the cost will be going up,” said Eugene Graner with Heartland Investor Services.

But, there is assistance available through the Department of Commerce’s weatherization program.

The Community Services division has nearly $3 million to give to those who need help.

“Weatherization is a program that serves a low income population. We go into the home and do an energy audit. And then, come up with a list of measures that will save energy and increase the health and safety of the home,” said Weatherization Program Manager Bruce Hagen.

Bruce Hagen says the process improves the energy efficiency of the home for a heat savings of 17 to 25 percent.

“That’s a good thing for the people that need it. They should be awarded for it,” said Bachmeier.

In addition, the department is offering money through a secondary program to those who need furnace or cooling repairs.

More than 300 people have already signed up for the Weatherization Program.

To apply, visit NDWAP.com.

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