Feel free to use the accompanying photo to practice making your "shocked face," because skyrocketing natural gas prices are about to really get your attention.

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB), a non-profit watchdog group, is predicting that Illinois consumers may be paying hundreds of dollars more this winter in heating costs, and that this season may be the most expensive winter to heat your home since the winter of 2008-2009.

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Getty Images

By Higher Heating Costs, We Don't Mean Just A Little Higher, We Mean A Lot

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) website pulls back the curtain a bit on what Illinois' gas providers are charging this year compared to last year, and it's not pretty. Here are some of CUB's numbers:

  • Ameren Illinois: 68.084 cents per therm (up 101% from last November)
  • Nicor Gas: 68 cents per therm (up 143% from last November)
  • North Shore Gas: 68.440 cents per therm (up 77% from last November)
  • Peoples Gas: 73.870 cents per therm (that's up a stunning 164% over last November)
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Getty Images

When You Combine Natural Gas Prices With Other Fuel Costs, It Gets Really Pricey

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (USEIA), inflation on natural gas and other fuels is going to be costly to Illinois homeowners, with some of us potentially seeing our heating bills increase by as much as 54%.

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Getty Images

There Is A Helping Hand, Although The Help Is Information Not Financial

Breaking down all the different variables to this story would take more than the space I'm allotted here, but the Citizens Utility Board has set up a website to give you some help sorting it all out.

MyStateline.com:

In response to this, the Citizens Utility Board has launched an online help center, which will advise gas customers on how to soften the blow of these potentially crippling price increases. The new site explains why gas prices are high, offers efficiency and safety tips, outlines a customer’s rights against disconnection and arms consumers with information about energy assistance and alternative suppliers.

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