ST. CLOUD -- Prepare for a jump in heating costs this winter.

The National Energy Assistance Director’s Association estimates home heating costs could go up 17% this winter, to the highest level in more than 10 years.

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The association says the average home heating cost is expected to go up from $1,025 to $1,202, but it varies depending on the fuel type used.

  • Natural Gas: $952 – up 34.3%
  • Electricity - $1,328 – up 6.9%
  • Heating Oil - $2,115 – up 12.8%
  • Propane - $1,828 – up 15.2%

As a result, area agencies are bracing for a high demand for assistance programs.

Energy Program Manager at Tri-CAP, Dona Ramler, advises everyone to start the application process early.

They can submit the paperwork anytime between October 1 and May 31. The best thing would be for them to apply early, because funding may run out by the end of the program year.

Qualified applicants may receive a grant to pay a portion of their home heating costs. Applicants will have to report the last three months of income to determine eligibility. Ramler says there are people available to help with the paperwork.

They can stop in anytime. If they have questions, they just go to the front desk, and they'll ask for someone with the Energy Assistance Program. We'll have someone come out and help them with their questions.

For more information on energy assistance, click here.

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