Here’s what to know about natural gas, propane price spikes as heating season begins


From staff reports, Des Moines Register

For Iowans who heat their homes or businesses with gas, it could be a rough winter. Here’s what to know.

Prices are going up


Mid-American Energy Co., Iowa’s largest utility, has warned its 602,000 natural gas customers that heating bills could rise by 46% to 96% over last year’s because of rising gas costs. Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy, which also serves large swaths of Iowa through its Interstate Power & Light Co., has said it expects bills to increase, as well.

Prices also are rising for the estimated 165,000 mainly rural Iowans who heat with propane. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that it expects heating costs to go up 69% over last year’s to an average of $1,805 for the season.

As of Oct. 18, the per-gallon cost of propane was $2.03, and Jay Christie, past president of the Iowa Propane Gas Association board of directors, said it could go to $3.


Higher demand means higher costs

Getting the blame for the higher energy prices are increasing demand as manufacturing recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic recession, and a strong market for gas in Europe, drawing U.S. exports.

The utilities say people who heat with electricity should not be affected.


What customers can do


Keeping the thermostat set lower is the simplest strategy. Alliant and MidAmerican also urge consumers to consider measures to increase their homes’ energy efficiency, including having their furnace serviced and stopping air leaks around doors and windows.

In addition, customers can ask MidAmerican for budget billing, a free program designed to provide stable, year-round bills, eliminating the volatility that comes with seasonal costs. Alliant also has a fixed-cost program.

Need help paying the bill?

Iowans who qualify can ask for federal assistance to pay their heating bills or weatherize their homes through the state-administered Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, called LIHEAP. Both propane and natural gas customers are eligible.

Applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis Nov. 1-April 30. Households with a member 60 or older, those who are disabled, and those in crisis can apply now.


Here’s who to contact:

For more information about qualifications for LIHEAP, visit the Iowa Department of Human Rights website at

In addition, MidAmerican provides heating bill assistance and home weatherization through its I CARE program. It adds 25 cents to every dollar customers donate, and uses the money to help their communities.

For more information, or to donate, visit

Alliant has the Hometown Care Energy Fund. To find out more, visit

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