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Tri-State Area residents bracing for a winter of high home heating costs

Tri-State Area residents bracing for high home heating costs this winter
Tri-State Area residents bracing for high home heating costs this winter 03:01

NEW YORK -- Get ready for more inflation frustrations.

As the temperatures dip, experts say the average New York heating bill could be up to 32 percent higher than last winter.

CBS2's Tim McNicholas searches for solutions for struggling families.

Sucre Rosario feeds his family in Throggs Neck with the money he earns as a high school science teacher.

But lately?

"Right now it's 70 because we were not here," Rosario said of the temperature in his home.

He's more of a mathematician, calculating how high he can set the thermostat and still pay the bill.

"I wanted like 75 for them, but then if you go there it's gonna be higher," Rosario said.

He said he's still rebounding from the cost of cooling his home over the summer. Now, Con Edison is warning customers that the average residential heating bill could be 22 to 32 percent higher this winter compared to last.

"It's very difficult, you know, for a working family to be able to keep up," Rosario said.

"It's a crisis that has a lot to do with what's happening in Ukraine," Con Ed spokesperson Jamie McShane said.

Con Ed blames an increase in the cost of natural gas.

"It's a national shortage. This is not a Con Edison-specific issue. We see this happening on Long Island, upstate New York, and Connecticut," McShane said.

And, across the Hudson in New Jersey, where the state's Board of Public Utilities recently approved a 25 percent PSE&G rate increase. Customers are grappling with the problem across the Tri-State Area.

"There are people who are so frustrated by this and they feel like this is unfair. Customers and politicians have said things like, 'Ya know, Con Ed is profitable. Why do they have to raise the rates on us?'" McNicholas asked.

"As you know, we don't make a profit on the commodity. We buy the commodity on the wholesale market and we sell it to customers as what we pay for it," McShane said.

Con Ed recommends insulating your home, getting a smart thermostat to control your energy usage, and using LED lighting.

In some cases, local governments have searched for solutions.

"People are struggling just to make ends meet," Rockland County Executive Ed Day said.

Day says taxpayers will save $11 million next year after lawmakers repealed a residential energy sales tax specific to that county.

"To have that kind of tax taken off the bill is a huge cut for them, which is exactly what we wanted to do," Day said.

Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled a $70 million plan in August to install 30,000 heat pumps -- a furnace alternative that can reduce energy usage by 30 to 60 percent.

But that plan could take years and it's only for NYCHA homes, which means Rosario is in for a tough winter.

"It's gonna cost a lot of money," he said. "Sometimes I feel so frustrated that I don't even know what to do."

Con Ed does allow payment extensions in some cases. It also offers discounts to some customers who receive financial aid from the government.

For information on what assistance other utility companies offer, please click here, here and here.

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