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A colder winter could drive energy costs up significantly

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MADISON (WKOW) -- October is not only when leaves start to change in Wisconsin. It's also when the winter heating season begins.

The US Energy Information Administration said many people can expect to pay more for utilities this winter, but how much more you'll pay depends on what type of winter we have.

A colder winter could drive energy costs up significantly. The EIA said propane users might have to pay 94% more, and natural gas users could see their bill double.

"As soon as it gets cold and people start to put on their furnace, their consumption goes up just naturally," Cindy Tomlinson, Manager of External Relations for Alliant Energy, said.

NOAA is predicting slightly warmer than average temperatures and above-average rainfall this winter for southeast Wisconsin, but more rain could still soak up more money.

The Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District treats 42 million gallons of wastewater a day and said fuel costs are just one of the reasons its rates will increase.

"It's largely driven by aging infrastructure, community growth, and increased cost of doing business, chemicals and energy," Michael Mucha, Chief Engineer and Director of the Madison Metropolitan Sewer District, said.

Alliant Energy said it's been planning for months in an effort to keep costs lower for customers.

"We're looking at pricing and purchasing or acquiring natural gas in the summer when gas is at a lower cost and then we leverage that during the heating season so that customers aren't necessarily bearing the brunt of market prices," Tomlinson said. "If customers are facing financial hardships, the last thing we want is to turn off their service and so we encourage our customers to contact us."

Alliant Energy also said you can cut your winter heating bill by turning your thermostat down by just two degrees. 

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