EIA: Electric heat is cheapest this winter

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting a milder winter than last year, which could lead to a slight decrease in electricity heating costs compared with last winter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The cost of heating with natural gas, propane and oil are all expected to increase, however, primarily due to higher fuel prices.

The lower 48 states are forecast to be an average 2-percent warmer from October to March as compared with last winter. The resulting decline in energy consumption will be a boon to those using electric heat, offsetting a 1-percent average increase in electricity prices, according to EIA. The 37 percent of U.S. households using electric heat can expect to spend an average 1 percent less on heating costs.

“The number of households heating with electricity is expected to increase by
1.7 percent from last winter,” EIA said. “About 80 percent of the increase occurs in the South, where heat pumps are popular.”

The winter will not be as kind to those heating with natural gas, propane or oil, with household heating expenditures expected to rise by 3 percent, 7 percent and
8 percent, respectively.

Approximately half of all U.S. households use natural gas as a heating fuel, according to EIA, and the increase in costs represents a 4-percent increase in fuel prices and a 1-percent decrease in expected consumption. Five percent of U.S. households heat with propane, and specific fuel price increases are expected to vary widely across regions.

For the 6 percent of households heating with oil, high fuel costs—the highest average winter price on record—will drive up average winter heating costs by $193, according to EIA. Residential heating oil prices are expected to average $3.71 per gallon this winter, 33 cents per gallon higher than last winter.

More information on the Winter Fuels Outlook is available at EIA’s website.

Source: National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation

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