Northwest Iowa — Gas companies across northwest Iowa and the country are preparing their customers for high heating bills this winter. While the National Weather Service says there are equal chances for a colder winter, a warmer winter, and a normal winter, the base price of natural gas is already at a multi-year high, according to experts.

MidAmerican Energy serves the Sheldon community and many others in Iowa with natural gas. MidAmerican spokesperson Geoff Greenwood says they saw this coming.

He says one of the reasons the market is high is record exports from the United States to other parts of the world.

Greenwood says if it turns out to be a cold winter, demand will increase, sending prices even higher. If it’s a more mild winter, demand will be down, so prices might not rise as high.

He suggests winterizing your home, a programmable thermostat, and other energy-saving ideas to use less natural gas in an attempt to moderate the effects of high gas prices on your bill. If your income is in the moderate or low range, he says you might consider LIHEAP — the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program — a program that you can sign up for through Upper Des Moines or Mid-Sioux Opportunity or the community action agency serving your area. He says too, that if you’re having trouble paying your gas bill, you can call MidAmerican or your natural gas provider as well. Many of them have help available, and at the very least can help you by letting you pay your bill over a longer time.

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