Albertans are hoping there isn’t going to be another cold snap this winter — because they’re going to be paying double to heat their homes. It’s only going to get worse when the carbon tax jumps on April 1.That’s because Direct Energy — which buys its gas from ATCO — announced on Thursday that the default natural gas rates will jump to $4.30 per gigajoule (GJ) in February for customers living north of Red Deer and $4.43 for those living everywhere else — including Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat.That’s up from $2.17, or an increase of $2.24. That amounts to an average bill of $243 per month for those on the QE2 north and $226 for those south.No reason was given for the price discrepancies between the northern and southern regions apart from the fact that it’s presumably that much colder in the ‘Chuk and the Big Mac.It also has a direct correlation to electricity prices given that 60% of power generation in Alberta is from gas. That figure was closer to 90% during the cold snap..“Most Albertans will receive a rebate on their income tax to offset this amount, but it does come as a shock when you see it on your winter statements,”ATCO.According to ATCO, blame the carbon tax. Last year, the carbon tax increased from $2.63/GJ to $3.33/GJ and it’s going up again on April 1, to $80 per tonne from $65, courtesy of the Liberal government in Ottawa. And it’s going to double again by 2030 to $150.And it’s going to be passed directly onto consumers.That’s because Alberta’s natural gas distributors, including ATCO, calculate and charge the carbon tax based on customers’ natural gas usage on behalf of the federal government. Since the tax is tied to natural gas consumption, it didn’t make a noticeable difference on bills until the cold weather hit. Those invoices are in the mail.Albertans use about 2 or 3 GJ of natural gas in the summer, but use significantly more in the winter. According to Direct Energy, that amounts to about 16 GJ in colder months like February.“Most Albertans will receive a rebate on their income tax to offset this amount, but it does come as a shock when you see it on your winter statements,” it says.