NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- As if consumers don't have enough problems with a sputtering economy, heath care bills and a wheezing jobs market, winter and its bigger heating bills are around the corner. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than 90% of American households will see higher energy bills this winter. The EIA says the total cost for natural gas heat this year will climb 13%, to $679. Homes with electric heat (38% of the total housing stock) will fare better, as prices will climb by only 2%. Either way, homeowners and renters who handle their own utility bills should take steps to keep heating costs down -- even before the weather really turns cold. steps consumers can take to offset high heating costs": Take full advantage of the sun. Open the shades on the windows facing the sun in your home. That allows "natural heating" to take place. At night, close them to keep that natural heat inside. Seal drafty windows. The CEA says open, drafty windows are a real wallet-drainer in cold weather. "Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months," the group says. "Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce cold air from getting in."