(WHTM) — Winter energy prices are up across the nation and some people who switched companies for better rates are being hit even harder.

For the most part, it has been a mild winter in most of the United States. If this has been the case, why are utility bills so high?

February utility bills have been soaring for many people and switching providers might not help.

Chris and Jen Arnette live in an average home in an average neighborhood. But there is nothing average about their February utility bill of $874.

A combination of soaring rates, and a third-party provider’s new contract resulted in a bill more than twice what their neighbors were paying.

“We were jumping from 350 to 500 to 600 to 800,” said Chris Arnette.

The Energy Information Institute says that the average electric bill was up 15 percent this past year, and natural gas bills were up 28 percent.

The Arnette’s rates were up much more than that because their third-party provider was charging them three dollars per hundred cubic feet, which is three times the going rate.

Almost half of all states now allow some sort of energy choice. That could save you money on your heating or cooling bill.

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But watch out. When your initial rate expires after six months or a year, your bill could double or go up even more.

“So we’re trying to get out of this because this is a disaster,” said Chris.

The commission that oversees the rates said that they can’t control what a third-party provider charges. They say that customers need to watch their mail for notices that their rate is expiring and then try to negotiate a lower rate.

Sunsea Energy of New Jersey stated that they would give the Arnettes a courtesy refund.

However, the Arnettes worry about others. “There’s some people who wouldn’t be able to eat right now if they got a bill like that,” said Jen.

The good news is that your utility bill should decline until peak air conditioning season begins. That way you don’t waste your money.