Here’s one thing to be thankful for come November: Average U.S. heating costs are projected to be the lowest in at least four winters because of warmer-than-usual weather and lower fuel prices.
Those who burn natural gas to keep warm from October through March will pay an average of $578, down 10 percent from a year ago and the least since the winter of 2011-2012, the Energy Information Administration said Tuesday. Heating-oil consumers will pay $1,392, the lowest since at least 2008, the EIA projected in its Winter Fuels Outlook.
Heating costs are forecast to slide as supplies of oil and natural gas continue to flow out of U.S. shale formations, boosting inventories heading into winter. That’s coinciding with what government forecasters expect will be a warmer-than-usual season in the Midwest, South and Northeast, curbing consumer demand for the fuels.
“If winter temperatures come in as expected by U.S. government weather forecasters, U.S. consumers will pay less to stay warm this winter no matter what heating fuel they use,” EIA administrator Adam Sieminski said in a statement.
Propane bills in the Midwest this winter will average $1,234, the lowest in at least eight years. Those using electricity in the U.S. will see their costs drop 3 percent from a year ago, the EIA forecasts show.
Almost half of households are expected to use natural gas to keep warm this winter. Demand for the fuel may drop 6 percent because of higher-than-average temperatures, the EIA said.
While gas pipeline constraints in the Northeast may create price volatility during very cold stretches, demand in the region will probably fall by about 11 percent, the EIA said. Costs there will average $863, the lowest since 2011.
The only place where costs are expected to rise this winter is the West. Increased electricity demand in the region will boost expenditures for those heating with power by 3.8 percent to $865.