Heating Costs Soar

People living in cold weather states can expect to dig into their pockets a little deeper this winter. With skyrocketing heating fuel prices, families, especially if it's a brutally cold winter, may struggle to keep warm.

For many Americans, it's going to be a difficult winter. Energy experts are predicting home heating bills will jump at least 50 percent, or higher.

From the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, Mark Wolfe, said "We've never had prices this high, or that have increased this fast, this quickly."

Last year, natural gas customers spent an average of  $700 for heat. If it's an especially cold winter this year, families in the natural gas-dependent midwest could spend $1,600 heating their homes.

Homeowner, Lillian Drummond from Chicago said,  "I can hardly pay for the gas bill now including electricity too. They have gone up so high and if they go up any more i don't know what we will do. The story's not much better in other parts of the country."

In the northeast, heating oil customers should expect a 50 percent price increase. In the south, those that use electric heat could see an eleven percent rise.

States say without massive federal help, programs to help the poor will go broke and millions will face utility shutoffs. Democratic Illinois Representative Daniel Lipinski said, "I fear the sky-high prices could even prove to have deadly consequences this winter."

Despite the hurricanes, experts predict there won't be a shortage of natural gas, but demand is pushing up prices. With the combination fuel costs, some families could spend 20 percent of their take-home pay on energy.