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Dealing With Rising Heating Costs, Concerns

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- Records are being broken everywhere.

On January 6th, the consumption was approximately 11% higher than the company's previous record, said Abby Bottenfield a MidAmerican Spokesperson.

MidAmerican says people are cranking up the heat, but it's all coming in the midst of a natural gas price spike.

It means bills may also see a spike. How much remains to be seen.

Federal Energy Assistance and Weatherization programs are also waiting and watching. The United Way, which connects the budget conscious with those resources, say they've already seen an increased need for furnace assistance.

Their furnaces are tired, they just can't keep up, they've maybe broken down, and so they need help with repair or replacement, said Chris Juett with the United Way 211 Program.

In fact, this month they've had 62 calls for assistance with furnace repairs, compared to only 35 last January.

As for overall energy assistance, the numbers are tracking lower so far, but that may change.

Most people haven't gotten that bill after this cold spell yet. Juett said.

Residents we spoke to say they're already opening up the wallet more.

Last month was a little higher than it's been in past winters, said resident Laura Stradt. This month will probably be higher also.

Of course the experts say there are ways to avoid that such as adjusting your thermostat or installing proper insulation.

In the case of resident Jenny Bollig, you could bundle up - indoors.

Wearing sweaters of jackets at home I guess, Bollig says. I try to save a few dollars.

For more info on the energy assistance program, visit http://www.dcaa.iowa.gov/bureau_EA/

For more info on budget billing, visit http://www.midamericanenergy.com/service6.aspx

You can also contact the United Way for assistance. Just dial 211 on your phone.
 
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