Start bracing your budget. The federal government is forecasting that heating costs will rise — as much as 38 percent — compared with last winter.
Depending on how you heat your home and where you live, that could translate to several hundred dollars more than you spent last winter.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest Winter Fuels Outlook report, issued Thursday, projects that Americans will spend more on all four main heating methods included in the report:
- Natural gas: Households that heat primarily with natural gas are expected to spend an average of 22 percent ($116) more this winter compared with last winter.
- Heating oil: Households that heat primarily with oil are expected to spend 38 percent ($378) more.
- Electricity: Households that heat primarily with electricity are expected to spend 5 percent ($49) more.
- Propane: These increases vary by region. Midwestern households that heat primarily with propane are expected to spend 30 percent ($290) more, while their Northeastern counterparts are expected to spend 21 percent ($346) more.
In the case of all four of these heating methods, households’ costs are projected to rise partly because both retail prices and consumption are projected to increase.
Heating oil is expected to see the biggest jumps in both prices and consumption — 20 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
The EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook is also based on projections from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
This federal agency expects temperatures east of the Rocky Mountains will be “much colder” this winter compared with last winter, the EIA reports. More specifically:
- The Northeast: 17 percent colder
- The Midwest: 17 percent colder
- The South: 18 percent colder
- The West: 2 percent warmer
The EIA notes, however, that temperatures in the three eastern regions were “much warmer than normal” last year. So while temperatures this winter are expected to be colder in those regions than last winter, they are projected to be 3 percent warmer than temperatures averaged during the prior five winters.
The same pattern of good news follows for the cost of most types of heating, according to the EIA:
“Although overall [heating] expenditures are expected to be higher than last year, they are comparable to or lower than the average winters from 2010-11 through 2014-15, except for electricity, where expenditures are higher in both cases.”
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