Help available for Utah families as heating costs rise

Nov 10, 2022, 11:41 AM | Updated: 11:54 am

SALT LAKE CITY — It’s not technically winter yet, but Utahns are already heating their homes to stay warm as temperatures drop to below-average levels this week.

This year, heating costs are skyrocketing, but there is some relief.

We’re breaking down some of the ways you can “Save More and Worry Less.”

Utah heating costs rising

Utah homeowners are in for a tough winter. Compared to last year, natural gas is 66% higher and heating oil is up nearly 75%, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.

“The U.S. Energy Administration of Information released a report that said nearly 80% of Utahns rely on natural gas as their primary heat source,” said Michael Murdock, manager of Utah’s home energy assistance target, or HEAT, program.

With soaring inflation, those who use heating oil or natural gas to stay warm will have to shell out the most due to price increases of 27% and 28%.

That means average families are expected to pay $1,202 to heat their homes.

What’s behind the surge? Supply and demand. Energy market turmoil is pushing energy prices up.

“Energy costs are always going up,” said Jon Arbuckle with Ponds Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning. He’s worked for the family-owned business for 18 years and said inflation is hitting them hard.

“In turn, we’ve had to raise our prices and it’s not like we’re trying to gouge anyone. We’re just trying to stay afloat.”

Help available

Utahns who need help can apply for the HEAT program.

“With high energy demand and the strain that it has on low-income families, we expect it’s going to be a big burden on them,” said Murdock.

Priority is given to people over the age of 60, people with disabilities and families with children under the age of 6.

Applicants need to be at or below 150% of the federal poverty level and a U.S. citizen or qualified non-citizen. Murdock said they processed over 35,000 applications this season, which amounted to about $17 million of energy assistance across the state.

To apply, click here. In the meantime, there are ways you can keep heating costs low:

  • Use a programmable thermostat
  • Open the curtains during the day to let the sun in
  • Ask your energy company if they provide energy audits
  • Schedule routine services to maintain your heating systems

“There’s a line of people waiting for our services, so call early. That’s my recommendation,” Arbuckle said.

Experts also recommend checking with your utility company if they can set up a payment plan for you.

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Help available for Utah families as heating costs rise