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US heating costs likely to be higher this winter

graph of heating degree days and average winter household expenditures for heating fuels, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, Winter Fuels Outlook, October 2017 Note: Propane price is the weighted average of Midwest and Northeast prices. All other fuels reflect national averages.

 Heating oil use much more common in Northeast regions

Most U.S. households can expect higher heating expenditures this winter (October through March) than the last two winters according to EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook.

Higher expected winter heating expenditures are the result of both more heating demand because of relatively colder weather and, to a lesser extent, higher fuel prices.

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 anticipates that winter weather will be 13 per cent colder than last winter and closer to the average of the previous 10 winters.

winter heating

Because weather patterns present great uncertainty to winter energy forecasts, EIA’s Winter Fuels Outlook includes projections for 10 per cent colder and 10 per cent warmer scenarios.

In the past 10 winters, actual temperatures have been more than 10 per cent colder than NOAA’s Sept. forecast once and warmer than the forecast twice.

graph of U.S. total heating degree days in winter months, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, Winter Fuels Outlook, October 2017

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.

map of primary home heating fuel by state, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Census Bureau American Community Survey 2016

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