Deep freeze likely to boost your heating bill; help available

Deep freeze likely to boost your heating bill; help available

READING, Pa. - The cold weather has set in across the region, and people are doing anything they can to keep warm.

"It is extremely cold," said Theodore LaFerriere, of Reading. "I am walking around hitting all the shops, trying to keep moving."

Others are bundling up for fun. Jeremy Weidner got out on the ice at 6 a.m. So far, he caught one trout.

"It is fun to do. I enjoy doing it a lot," said Weidner, of Exeter Township, adding that he hopes the cold continues. "Yea, this whole week, and hopefully next week stays really cold so we can keep on doing it a couple more weeks."

But for those trying to stay warm inside, heating your home can be expensive during these bitter cold snaps.

"The weather has been very cold and it has been colder than it has been in quite a number of years," said Joseph Swope, UGI communications manager.

Swope said this January has already been 18 percent colder than previous years, so although the price for natural gas has not changed, he said you will most definitely see an increase in your bill because of usage.

"If they are having trouble, if they look at that bill and say, 'Oh my gosh, I cannot pay this bill,' the first thing they should do is call UGI," said Swope.

Swope said there are several assistance programs available, including one that allows you to spread your payments out over several months instead of paying a high bill during the coldest months.

UGI officials said the cold snap will definitely be a shock to the system. The utility expected to put out 40 percent more gas Tuesday compared to a day in the low 30s, but it was prepared for it. Swope said UGI has more than enough gas to serve its 600,000 customers, and it is keeping a closer eye on its operations.

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