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DMV residents should expect to pay more to heat their homes this winter

A price surge for natural gas, heating oil and other fuels across the world has a rippling effect.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Officials with Washington Gas said customers should expect to see higher heating bills this winter.

Federal experts are forecasting winter to be colder this year. Washington Gas is currently compiling data to determine just how much the increase is going to be for its 1.2 million customers across the DMV.

DeShaundra Jones of Washington Gas is recommending customers to begin the weatherization process to their homes, familiarize themselves to a list of assistance programs and determine if a payment plan is necessary. 

"Washington Gas has suspended disconnections and assumptions of late fees throughout the end of the year," Jones told WUSA9. " We want to ensure that ultimately the gas stays on and folks stay warm."

A list of resources from Washington Gas can be found here

Prices could soar overall not just because of the weather, but the ongoing low supply of energy resources amid growing demand. The cost of heating oil, natural gas and other fuels has been increasing. 

The global surge has a rippling effect and impacting smaller businesses such as Suburban Fuel Company in Alexandria. The business has seen fluctuating prices for heating oil over the last couple of weeks. 

"We ride with the market and try to accommodate our customers and try to keep the prices lower for them," service administrator Kristina Donchatz said. "Just a few weeks it had been $3.16 a gallon for a couple of months and it shot up to almost $3.50 a gallon."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said households could see their energy bills spike by up to 54%. Nearly half of homes in the country use natural gas for heat and could pay an average of $746 this winter, 30% higher than a year ago. 

Electricity is the second-most used heating source for homes, and users could see an increase of 6% to $1,268 this year. While only 4% of homes in the U.S. use heating oil, the cost could skyrocket by up to 43%. 

"I told my husband last night we're really going to have to watch the temperature we keep our heat set on," Donchatz added. "We'll be saving some and I do have a wood-burning fireplace and I can use that and use electric heaters if it gets too bad."

Energy efficiency advocacy groups list ways to save money on your next energy bill including making the switch to LED, maintaining HVAC systems, inviting the sun in and use a programmable thermostat. 

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