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Originally published: October 26, 2021

Winter heating bills expected to spike in Nebraska; weather will determine by how much

Winter heating bills expected to spike in Nebraska; weather will determine by how much Matthew Robinson of Aksarben ARS inspects a furnace in an Omaha home last week. CHRIS MACHIAN, OMAHA WORLD-HERALD Nancy Gaarder Omaha World-Herald A look at things you can do in your home to help conserve power during extreme cold weather. OMAHA- The price of natural gas and other heating fuels is the highest it has been in years, which bodes ill for those trying to keep their budgets in check. Nationwide, winter heating bills are forecast to rise an average of 30% to 50%, and possibly more, according to the recently released winter fuels forecast issued by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Any increase could hardly come at a worse time, say those who help Nebraskans most in need. Some Nebraska families are still recovering from the flood of 2019, and others are dealing with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Families struggling before COVID are worse off and even further behind coming out of COVID,” said Matt Wallen, senior vice president of the United Way of the Midlands. “Any further stresses like increased utility bills makes it that much more difficult for families to make ends meet.” The United Way operates the Omaha region’s 211 help line, and Chief Operating Officer Pamela Schwalb said calls in 2020 were almost double 2019, and 2021 is on course to be 25% higher. than 2020. “We have never seen it to this extent,” she said. Susan Zagozda of Omaha has been watching the price of food, gasoline and other expenses rise. Working part time at 65, she has no room in her budget for extra costs. As of Friday, she had yet to turn on her furnace, even though frost had nipped the plants outside her home.

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