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COLUMBIA - The Energy Information Administration projects households will spend 19 percent more on average for heating oil and 15 percent more for natural gas from Oct. 1 to March 31.  About half of U.S. households use natural gas as their main heating source.

The EIA report predicted higher heating bills stemming from an unexpected return to normal winter temperatures east of the Rocky Mountains compared with last winter's unusual higher temperatures.

Here are some ways to reduce the cost of your household heating bill:

  • Turn down the thermostat. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy says that turning down the thermostat 10 degrees when you go to work and again when you go to bed can save you about 14 percent on your heating bill.
  • Don't leave fans running. In just one hour, a fan can expel a houseful of warm air, according to the Department of Energy.
  • Turn down the water heater. Lowering the temperature to 115-120 degrees reduces power use often without a noticeable difference to the user.
  • Use curtains. Opening curtains and shades on south-facing windows during the day allows solar radiation to warm a living space; closing all curtains at night helps retard the escape of that heat.
  • Don't let heat escape unnecessarily. Keep doors and windows shut when the heat is on. If your home has a fireplace that you're not using, make sure the flu is closed.