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Cold stretches inflate energy bills

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - Being warm and comfortable in your home this winter could come with a higher price.

Greater energy usage translates to bigger bills. Xcel Energy customers used about 29 percent more natural gas this past December than in December 2012. Customers used about 19 percent more natural gas than expected for December.

Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Hoen says the system is well prepared to handle the extra usage. It's something they plan for while keeping up with the forecast.

CenterPoint Energy has told its customers to expect their heating costs to double. CenterPoint spokeswoman Becca Virden says they're encouraging customers to think about energy conservation.

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