Lynchburg, VA - The U.S. Energy Department announced home heating oil prices might be the highest ever this winter.
The news has area oil companies bracing for the worst. The cost is already 80 cents higher than this point last year.
That's 80 cents per gallon of heating oil, and you're talking hundreds of gallons needed for your home, it adds up very fast.
Mary Dews just started using her heating oil a few weeks ago and it's already busting her budget.
"For only like a couple of gallons, I'm paying just as much as I'm paying for the rent," said Dews.
She says she has nothing else to cut to pay those sky high heating bills.
"If I stop that, I still have a light bill to pay and I've been trying to cut on that because I really need the heat," said Dews.
"We're going into the season with very high prices and that is a concern," said Cole Candler, president of Candler Oil Company.
Candler says Dews won't be the only one feeling the pinch.
"Our customers are typically older people, people on fixed incomes, people who can least afford to pay any more for anything, especially heating the house," said Dews.
And with costs expected to increase at least 10% over last season, Watts Petroleum Company is encouraging customers to make the most of the heat they have.
"They're going to have to be more efficient in their use of energy. They're going to have to winterize their house," said John Watts, president of Watts Petroleum Company.
In some cases, the best plan might be to lower the thermostat and put on a jacket.
Dews says even then, she probably can't afford to stay warm.
"I'm going to pray about it for one thing, and maybe I'll get some help because I don't know, I really don't know," said Dews.
According to the Energy Department, the average house that uses heating oil from now until March will pay nearly $2500 for heat.