Winter Weather ADVISORY in effect from 11am-6pm for parts of SE Wisconsin

We Energies: Heating cost forecast under $500 for 3rd year in a row

MILWAUKEE -- Fall is almost over and that means winter is coming and as the temperatures drop, your heating bills will go up. But how much? That's the question.

How much you spend on your heating bill this season depends on the weather and climate in our area. Without getting too technical, this season the FOX6 Weather Experts are forecasting equal chances for warmer and colder weather. It could be mild, but it could also get horribly cold -- so just in case, get ready for it now.

Depending on who you ask, the fact that winter is on its way can be a great or a terrible thing. However, something that most people collectively dislike: winter heating bills.

"We expect the average customer to spend under $500 to heat their homes, and that's for the whole winter," said Cathy Schulze, We Energies.

Meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say this year, they're predicting winter weather of "equal chances" -- meaning there's a 50/50 chance chance this could be a warmer winter than a colder one. Those who monitor your energy say, don't take any chances.

Cathy Schulze

"Recommend that when you're not home during the day, when you're away at work or when you're sleeping at night, to lower that thermostat about seven to 10 degrees," said Schulze.

Keeping your bills down is more in your control than you may think.

"Turning up your furnace, having your furnace looked at every year -- it's always a good idea to make sure it's running efficiently and that saves you money in the long run as well," said Schulze.

Keeping in the heat and the money in your wallet.

"Also looking at your doors and windows, seeing are there any gaps around them? Sealing them with either weather stripping or caulk - that can make a difference," Schulze said.

On the off chance that this winter is harder than expected, and you end up having to pay more, don't stress just yet. We Energies has payment plans available so people can still keep their power on but not pay for it all at once. For more information on the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP), Visit homeenergyplus.wi.gov or call 866-432-8947.