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'I Literally Think I Gasped': Minnesotans Shocked At High Heating Bills

Originally published Feb. 7

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) -- Kristin Doughty is used to having high heating bills in the wintertime.

"I opened it, and I literally think I gasped," Doughy, from Mendota Heights, said.

She was stunned to find her January bill was almost $350 for their 2,000-square-foot home.

"I looked back to January, and it was double what it was last year," she said.

She's not alone. The entire country is facing high energy costs.

University of St Thomas finance professor David Vang says the cold January temperatures along with another pandemic-related shortage, particularly natural gas, are partly to blame.

"There's also an increase in worldwide demand for natural gas and energy sources," Vang said. "It's kind of the result of the economy bouncing back and China growing."

Natural gas is used to heat about half of American households but electric users will see an increase in their bills, too.

"If something like natural gas goes up because of scarcity then the overall energy bill will go up as well," Vang said.

It could take some time for supply to catch up. Vang says he thinks it could be fall before energy costs have the chance of going back to more typical prices.

Vang says keeping your thermostat lower for the workday will help lower costs but shorter bursts may not make much of a difference.

Minnesota's Cold Weather rule prevents energy companies from turning off someone's heat for not paying their bill. That rule is typically in effect from October to April.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

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