Estimates show utility costs likely to significantly jump this winter

Don’t expect this winter to provide much relief on utility bills in Kansas.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Don’t expect this winter to provide much relief on utility bills in Kansas. New estimates show it could cost an average of $200 more this winter to heat your home.

Across all heating sources, it’s expected to cost Kansans about 17% more this winter to heat a home compared with last year. The jump is 35% more than two years ago. It’s an unwelcome burden for people already paying high utility bills.

For Kansans like Willie Wesley, the energy costs pile on to increased costs across the board.

“In the wintertime, you have to heat. In the summertime, you‘ve got to have air. It’s a burden. It’s pretty hard,” Wesley said.

While Kansan Becky St. James has noticed slightly higher bills, she’s prepared for her first winter in Kansas after moving to The Sunflower State from Wyoming.

“(I have) really heavy curtains that I put outside my windows. I make sure the blinds are closed. In the daytime, if it’s warm, I let a little fresh air in,” she said.

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association gives an idea of what consumers could face this year to heat their homes. Propane is up nearly 60% from two years ago. Natural gas is up 66%. Electricity, while not as big of a jump, is up nearly 12%. Over the course of the winter, those increases add hundreds of dollars to heating bills.

Part of the reason for the higher heating costs this winter is the heat from this summer. In order to power all of those air conditioners, utility companies had to create more electricity, including using natural gas and drawing down natural gas reserves.

Weatherizing is one way people can be proactive to save some money this winter. There are programs to help low-to-moderate-income households do this work.

“A lot of work on what we call ‘the building shell.’ That’s the cold drafts that come through the building. We seal up those to make sure that heat is staying in, in the wintertime and cool is staying in, in the summertime,” Kansas Housing Corp Senior Weatherization Program Manager Scott Kuhn explained.

The Kansas Housing Corp is the state administration for weatherization assistance programs. Using federal grants, the agency funds work that adds simple things like weather stripping to replace HVAC systems.

“Every home is different and so the upgrades that each home needs vary as well,” Kuhn said.

The weatherization program already has a waiting list, but people can apply through the regional provider. The recent federal infrastructure legislation added more funds for the program to help homeowners and renters.