Freezing temps drive up energy bills, but it could be worse - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Freezing temps drive up energy bills, but without frac sand, cost could be worse

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The frigid weather is making the furnace work harder, and you may be digging deeper to pay for it. 

On even the coldest Wisconsin winter day, it'll feel like a tropical paradise at Chaos Water Park in Eau Claire.

"That's the best part about working here in the winter, it's 86 degrees air and water temperature," says Benny Anderson, the General Manager at Metropolis Resort.

And it costs a pretty penny to keep it that warm, especially as the temperatures drop further and further.

"On about a seven to ten thousand dollar bill in the winter, it's a decent increase," Anderson says.

And compared to last year, many heating bills in the Chippewa Valley are considerably higher.

"Since last year we've seen a seven point six percent increase in our heating bills, a lot of it just because of the colder weather we think," Anderson says.

"Bills were down last year because people just weren't using as much. Bills are up this year about ten to fifteen percent, really driven by the usage, not the prices, says Brian Elwood with Xcel Energy.

Xcel energy says natural gas prices have remained flat since last year.

"They're at near historic lows. Five or six years ago, there was concerns with the long term supply of natural gas. Right around that time, companies were exploring new ways to get more natural gas," Elwood says.

And they certainly found one, using a product right here in western Wisconsin.

"The natural gas wells are able to get much more natural gas through this hydro-fracking directional boring technology, which uses sand which a lot of it comes from western Wisconsin. Since that time we've seen a much larger supply of natural gas which has really driven down the cost of natural gas, says Elwood.

Which means, when you get your next bill, keep in mind, the bottom line could've been worse.

Xcel Energy says there are incentives for people wishing to switch from another heating source like fuel oil to natural gas. To find out more information, click here.

al gas. To find out more information, click here.

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