With consumers already dealing with the fastest price increases in decades, another unwelcome uptick is on the horizon: a widely expected increase in winter heating bills.

After plunging during the pandemic as the global economy slowed, energy prices have roared upward. Natural gas, used to heat almost half of U.S. households, has almost doubled in price since this time last year. The price of crude oil — which deeply affects the 10 percent of households that rely on heating oil and propane during the winter — has soared by similarly eye-popping levels.

And those costs are being quickly passed through to consumers, who have become accustomed to cheaper energy prices in recent years and now find themselves with growing concerns about inflation this year.

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