Lower temperatures and decreased demand for fuel mean that household spending on heating costs this winter could drop by as much as $800 from last year, according to a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
We’re already into the winter heating season, which stretches from the beginning of October until the end of March. Last year, the polar vortex and other factors caused frigid temperatures 11 percent colder than the 10-year average. The Arctic-like conditions produced a double whammy on heating bills, since people burned more fuel which in turn stressed supplies and made prices rise even higher.
This winter, expect a break, with temperatures predicted to return closer to average. That means a break in fuel costs as well. The biggest reductions will be felt by people who use oil and propane to heat their homes. Oil prices should drop by about 6 percent by volume, while propane could cost as much as 17 percent less because of a surge in supply.
Natural gas and electric prices are actually predicted to increase, but consumers should still see an overall drop in expenditures because milder temperatures mean they will use less fuel overall. The price of gas per volume is expected to be about 6 percent higher than last winter, because supplies still haven’t recovered from last year’s demand. Electric prices should also see increases, in part because gas is responsible for about a quarter of electricity production in the U.S.
With the projected change in prices combined with lower temperatures, the EIA predicts some big savings per household this year, with prices subject to regional variation:
|Last Winter Avg. Cost||This Winter Avg. Cost||Projected savings|
The 50 percent of U.S. homes who use gas heating will still spend the least overall, even as the price per unit creeps upward.
Of course, these figures are just projections and bear the usual caveat that predicting the weather is notoriously fraught with peril, while energy prices are subject to disruption from unexpected events as well. So don’t spend those extra dollars yet — better to budget for a repeat of last year’s icy conditions, then enjoy all that money you saved come springtime if the projections for a milder winter hold true.
And you can take some basic steps like installing a programmable thermostat, sealing your windows and making sure your furnace is in good working order to lock in savings regardless of what old man winter has in store for us this year.
It’s a good idea to schedule your annual furnace maintenance before the frigid temperatures hit. Your local One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating® technicians can ensure your heating system is in top condition.
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