Heating Bills Are About to Spike This Winter: How to Cope

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KEY POINTS

  • The cost of natural gas has risen tremendously this year.
  • Homeowners could be facing their most expensive heating bills yet this winter.

Here's how homeowners can prepare for higher utility costs.

When you own a home, it's not just your mortgage you have to worry about. You also have to pay to maintain your home, as well as cool and heat it. The latter may prove to be quite expensive this winter.

Natural gas prices are up

As of late September, the cost of natural gas was up more than 180% from the previous year. All told, consumers are looking at the most expensive gas prices since February 2014.

All of this is coming at a time when the cost of everyday goods, from gas to groceries, is up due to rampant inflation. But for homeowners on a tight budget, rising gas costs could really prove problematic and put many people at risk of racking up debt.

How to cope with rising heating costs

At this point, it's important to accept the fact that heating bills will rise this winter. If you're mostly living paycheck to paycheck without savings to fall back on, that alone could constitute a major financial strain.

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But there are things you can do to ease the pain. First, be mindful of how you heat your home. If you're at the office all day and your kids are at school, set your thermostat to a much lower temperature, and only raise it for when you'll actually be in the house.

Lowering your thermostat overnight could go a long way, too. It won't cost you anything to bust out the extra blankets you already have, but it will cost more to keep your home a few degrees warmer while people are sleeping.

Still, heating your home strategically may only go so far. In addition to doing that, take a close look at your household budget and see if there are any bills you can cut back on.

If you're already living a very pared-down lifestyle, there may not be any. But otherwise, canceling cable for the winter months may be a reasonable step to take if you just can't swing your higher heating bills and don't want to land in debt.

Another option to consider is getting a second job to boost your income. If you pick up a flexible side hustle that only has you working a few extra hours a week, that alone might make it so you're able to handle your rising heating bills without stress. That extra money could also come in handy for covering higher food costs and everyday bills.

Working a second job could also help you build some savings. That way, if inflation continues to rear its ugly head, you'll have a cushion in case your paycheck falls short and you're forced to give up your side gig due to scheduling constraints.

Don't be left in the cold

It's important to have a home that's comfortable to live in. But this winter, that could mean spending more money than ever on heating bills. Take the above steps to lessen the burden -- and increase your chances of getting through the season debt free.

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