Jan 8, 2014 at 10:44 am
ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - As the core of Minnesota battles through extreme deep-freeze conditions, the cost to heat a home stands to increase.
Pat Boland, Manager of Credit Policy for Xcel Energy, says gas prices have remained relatively flat, and the way people are using heat, and how efficient their homes are, will make the greatest impact on the cost of their bills for the season.
"With the extreme weather we've experienced, bills are going to be higher," Boland says. "How much higher? That's up to the individual customer."
Boland says simple cost-saving measures they encourage include making sure your furnace is running properly, and checking windows for air leaks.
Boland adds, for cold-weather homeowners, an average monthly payment plan, or what Xcel calls the Budget Helper, can help control large winter-season bills.
"It takes your costs throughout the year and spreads them out," he explains. "So if you're a customer subjected to high heating costs, you might want to look at spreading them out over the non-heating months, just to make sure you're not paying several hundred dollars in one month versus paying a much less amount over a 12-month period."
As for customers struggling to pay their bills, Boland says Xcel isn't leaping into action to shut off electricity and heat during the dead of winter.
"We don't look at disconnecting anyone's heat at this time of year," Boland stresses. "At this time, we're looking to work with the customer and get them in touch with agencies that may be able to help them with their bill."
As for the cold weather - a warm-up is in sight. The St. Cloud area is looking at high temps in the upper 20 and lower 30s for this coming weekend.
CLICK BELOW FOR AUDIO COMMENTS FROM XCEL'S PAT BOLAND
Temp: 37°F (3°C)
Wind: 5mph NW
Wind Chill: 33°F