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This winter’s heating fuel outlook: Higher prices than last year, but near or below average

The cost of heating a home in the Midwest this winter is projected to be as much as 38% higher than last year, but bills are still expected to be near or below the 7-year average.

The US Energy Information Administration has released its Winter Fuels Outlook, which projects the per-unit price of heating fuels and the total cost of heating homes for the coming winter (October through March).

Heating with any fuel is expected to cost most than last year, when prices were especially low due to a mild winter that kept nationwide heating demand to its lowest level in 25 years. The cost of heating a home with natural gas or electricity is projected to be 5% higher than last year, while the cost of heating with propane is projected to be 30% higher, and heating oil 38% higher.

Nationwide propane inventories are high – even higher than the record levels seen last fall. These inventories plus improved rail delivery networks should help prevent the kind of widespread shortage that led to skyrocketing prices during the winter of 2013-14. However, local markets could still see tight supplies, especially if temperatures reach extreme cold.

EIA expects to see about average temperatures this winter, though it cautions that weather is always unpredictable.

No matter the predictions, remember that energy efficiency can help you stay comfortable without breaking the bank. Make sure your home heating system is running safely and efficiency, seal any leaks around doors and windows with caulk or weather-stripping, and install storm doors to get your home ready for winter.

To learn more about energy efficiency and the rebates available to you, ask your utility or contact us for assistance.

Heating source 7-year ave. winter expenditures 2015-16 ave. expenditures 2016-17 projected ave. expenditures
Natural gas $672 $515 $668
Heating oil $1797 $992 $1370
Electricity $950 $972 $1052
Propane $1542 $982 $1272
Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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