Heating Costs Going Through Roof

As picturesque as it may be, this month's cold snap in the Northeast snapped more than a few nerves.

Just ask anyone who made it as far as the mailbox, where, as CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, the only thing that cut deeper than the wind chill was the bottom line on their heating bills.

Whether you use heating oil pumped from a truck or natural gas piped from the ground, the cost of heating your home this winter is at near record levels, but you can't just blame the cold.

When she opened up her bill, Dorothea Yancy says, "I did what I think they call hyperventilating."

Yancy lives in Colorado, which so far has experienced a kinder, gentler winter by comparison.

Still, the monthly cost to heat her two-bedroom apartment is $192, more than double last year's bill.

"It's a very small place," says Yancy. But according to her heating bill, "I'm heating a castle."

And she is not alone.

"It's been one of the roughest years we've ever had," says Brandy Blair.

Colorado has seen utility prices shoot up by as much as 70 percent, putting a strain on federal and local assistance centers trying to fill the gap.

"Everyone is stunned by their bills this winter," says Skip Arnold, of Energy Outreach Colorado. "These families are in virtual crisis."

But it's a crisis, analysts say, that is a product of the strengthening economy.

"It's a perfect storm of conditions that have driven these high prices we see in natural gas today," says Agbeli Ameko, of the Energy Forecasting Service.

When the economy picked up, so did the demand on the supply of both oil and natural gas. Even without a dip in temperatures, the cost of comfort was on the rise.

So in the end, your heating bill may bear very little resemblance to what the thermometer says outside. Because even if the rest of this winter is warmer than normal, analysts predict prices may still remain near an all time high. Meaning that bone-chilling bill of yours may not thaw, even if the sun comes out.
  • Jaime Holguin

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