Heating Costs Expected To Spike

The dog may not be the only one barking at the heating oil man this winter after you get your bill. Heating oil prices are expected to jump more than 30 percent in the northeast. Natural gas prices to soar more than 70 percent in the Midwest.

The signs were they were gonna go up anyway, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason, but with Katrina they're gonna go up even more.

Dave Schildwachter, who runs a heating oil company in the Bronx, agreed. Last winter he offered his customers a price cap of $1.79. Today oil is $2.69.

So could it go higher?

"If you ask me this question a year ago. I'd say "gee, $1.79 is crazy.' Wasn't so crazy," Schildwachter now admits.

How long will we be choking on these higher heating bills? It's hard to say. But the damage from Katrina down in the Gulf will be putting pressure on prices for months to come.

For 20 years Steve Maki has helped run the Metrodome in Minneapolis. He's expecting at least a 40 percent jump in his energy costs this winter.

"This would certainly be the largest increase in my history of working at the stadium," Maki says.

To save money, they may manually remove snow from the Metrodome roof this winter.

Howard Smith runs the schools in Tarrytown, New York with five buildings to heat filled with 2,500 students.

As Mason points to a boiler tank, he asks Smith if it is filled every week in the peak of winter.

"Yup," Smith says bluntly.

He can't afford a 30 percent fuel hike and this has caused Smith to worry.

"It does because we can't build that kind of safety net into our budget," Smith says.

Schildwachter says we all need to watch the thermostat and service our boilers.

But a lot of us have been doing this stuff for the past few winters and there's nowhere to go anymore, Mason says.

"Amen," says Schildwachter.

If you thought your bill was bad last year, this winter it's really going to bite.
  • Sean Alfano

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