TORONTO -- It's going to cost Ontarians more to heat their homes if they use natural gas this year, as prices are expected to rise by about 15 per cent.

Enbridge Gas said that homeowners could have to pay up to $44 more a year depending on where they live.

That’s why, if you’re eligible, you may want to take part in a program that will provide you with free energy upgrades including insulation, draft proofing and a smart thermostat.

“There is no catch here. It is absolutely free and there are no upfront costs. We just really want to get the word out," Corrie Morton, Supervisor of Affordable Housing Energy Conservation Programs with Enbridge Gas, told CTV News Toronto Tuesday.

It’s called the Home Winterproofing Program and since it began in 2012, more than 22,000 customers have taken advantage of the energy-saving upgrades.

Enbridge says that up to 400,000 Ontario homes could still be eligible for the energy-saving freebies.

In order to participate, you have to have an Enbridge Gas account and heat your home with natural gas. Renters also qualify for the program but must get permission from their landlord to take part.

Morton said, if a person qualifies, they may be entitled to free insulation for the walls, attic or basement, as well as free draft proofing to seal air leaks.

They will also receive a free smart thermostat that adjusts automatically to keep you comfortable without wasting money.

Eligibility also depends on your household income level, the number of people in the home and if you receive assistance from a government program.

You must meet one of the following criteria:

Income level (before tax)

  • 1 person = $36,578
  • 2 people = $51,729
  • 3 people = $63,354
  • 4 people = $73,157
  • 5 people = $81,791
  • 6 people = $89,598
  • 7+ people = $96,775

Enbridge customers are encouraged to click here to see if they qualify.

When the cold weather arrives, you'll also want to make sure all your windows are closed tight, that your furnace is working and that your furnace filter doesn’t need to be replaced.

The program is fully funded by Enbridge Gas and the company says customers should only go through the Enbridge website. There is a warning on their website to be careful of social media ads offering a home renovation rebate or a $50 rebate on your natural gas bill. The website warns these are not legitimate offers.

The company also warns of individuals going door-to-door who claim to be with Enbridge Gas or who claim to be offering rebates or free services.

"Enbridge Gas does not go door-to-door," Morton said.

Even if you don't qualify for the program, there are many steps you can take yourself to try and lower your heating bill.