Winter heating costs likely to be higher this winter than last: EIA

Most U.S. households can expect higher heating bills this winter (October through March) than the last two winters, according to the Energy Information Administration’s just-released Winter Fuels Outlook.

Higher winter heating costs are the result of both higher heating demand because of relatively colder weather and, to a lesser extent, higher fuel prices, Kallanish Energy learns.

EIA’s projections of heating demand are based on the most recent temperature forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA’s forecast projects winter weather will be 13% colder than last winter and closer to the average of the previous 10 winters.

Because weather patterns present great uncertainty to winter energy forecasts, EIA's Winter Fuels Outlook includes projections for 10% colder and 10% warmer scenarios. In the past 10 winters, actual temperatures have been more than 10% colder than NOAA’s September forecast once, and warmer than the forecast twice.

The average household winter heating fuel expenditures in EIA’s forecast provide a broad guide to expected heating expenditures. Fuel expenditures for any household also depend on the size and energy efficiency of the home and its heating equipment, indoor temperature preferences, and local weather conditions.

The choice of primary heating fuel varies considerably by region, resulting in regional differences in total expenditures. Natural gas is the most common space heating fuel in every region except the South, where electric heating is more prevalent. Heating oil is much more common in the Northeast than in other regions, while propane is more common in the Midwest