If you use natural gas to heat your water, cook your food, dry your clothes or heat your house, you'll be shelling out more money this winter in South Dakota.

A Tuesday (October 5) advisory from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) warns state residents to expect higher prices for natural gas as we head into the colder season.

According to the PUC, the cost of natural gas delivery, which makes up about one-third of the cost, is holding steady, but the price of the gas itself is on the rise.

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PUC Chairman Chris Nelson says supply shortages and higher demand for natural gas are to blame.

The shortages are a result of increased exports of natural gas coupled with low production due to hurricanes that have led to smaller inventories nationwide.

So how much more will we be paying this winter?

Nelson says customers of MidAmerican Energy, Montana-Dakota Utilities, and NorthWestern Energy could be paying between 50 to 100 percent more than during the same time last year.

To offset the increased costs, the PUC suggests that consumers set thermostats to a lower temperature, upgrade appliances for greater energy efficiency, change furnace filters more often, and conserve hot water.

For more information, contact your utility company, visit the PUC's website or the website of the U.S. Department of Energy.

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