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Heating Your Home May Soon Cost More

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outside home heat pic
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Heating your home could soon cost more.

The federal government has announced that energy prices would probably go up, and it's just one more way Hurricane Katrina may hit people in the wallet.

Take Fayetteville, for example.

In the historic part of town, houses have character but little insulation.

And residents such as Barbara Humphries keep close tabs on their power bills.

"Yes, I worry about it," she said. "I think I'm like the general public that works for their paycheck from week to week. We do things such as watch the thermostat."

She tried to keep costs down, she said, but that may become more difficult.

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced it expected prices for energy, including electricity, natural gas, and heating oil, to rise.

Officials predict rates for electricity would go up 17 percent in the South, heating oil would climb 31 percent in the Northeast, and natural gas would jump 71 percent in the Midwest.

Petur Jonsson, an economics professor at Fayetteville State University, said when one energy source costs more, so do the rest.

He called the energy sources "substitutable."

"Things like Katrina are more like hiccups in the long-term trend where the world's demand for energy is rising tremendously and the supply is not increasing at the same pace," he said.

Some local utility firms, such as Fayetteville's Public Works Commission (PWC), locked in prices with suppliers years ago, hoping to shield customers in situations like this.

"The only reason you should see your bill go up 70 percent is if you use 70 percent more," PWC spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson said.

But some customers such as Humphries may soon not have a choice about increased bills, and 70 percent could mean hundreds of dollars, Humphries said.


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