After a summer of high energy costs, winter promises more of the same. Only higher. The price of all major energy sources used to heat homes in this state is going up: electricity, natural gas, propane and heating oil.
To counter those rising costs, people are adding insulation, sealing ducts, replacing windows and taking other measures to make their homes energy efficient. And social services agencies are bracing for a surge of families with financial struggles.
Durham County Social Services has budgeted $240,000 more this year to help people pay heating bills, a 27 percent increase over last year's costs. The agency plans an advertising blitz to encourage residents and church groups to contribute.
"We expect a real crush of people," said Clay Holloway, who manages the county's Adult Services and Family Crisis Program. "We're seeing a lot of new clients coming in. And we haven't gotten to the cold season yet."
When winter arrives, natural gas users with PSNC Energy will pay about 12 percent more this October than they did last year. In December, electricity customers of Progress Energy will pay 11.5 percent more if state regulators approve an increase. Towns that provide electricity service to residents -- such as Apex, Clayton and Wake Forest -- already have approved similar rate increases.
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