Thursday, October 18, 2012
Energy: The cold returns, with higher heating prices
NEW YORK — Americans will pay more to heat their homes this winter as they feel something they didn’t feel much of last year: cold.
Fuel prices will be relatively stable, but customers will have to use more energy to keep warm than they did a year ago, according to the annual Winter Fuels Outlook from the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration.
Last winter was the warmest on record. This year, temperatures are expected to be close to normal.
Heating bills will rise 20 percent for heating oil customers, 15 percent for natural gas customers, 13 percent for propane customers and 5 percent for electricity customers, the EIA announced Wednesday.
Heating oil customers are expected to pay the highest heating oil prices ever. That will result in record heating bills, with an average of $2,494. That’s nearly $200 more than the previous high, set in the winter of 2010-11.
Customers who use natural gas, electricity or propane will see lower bills than they have in previous typical winters — even with the increase over last year — because prices are relatively low.
“It’s two different worlds. For most families this is still going to be an affordable year, except for those who use oil heat,” said Mark Wolfe, the executive director of the National Energy Assistance Director’s Association. “For them, it’s going to be very difficult.”
Just 6 percent of the nation’s households use heating oil. About half use natural gas for heat and 38 percent use electricity.
Five percent of households use propane and 2 percent use wood.