Federal officials warning of increase in home heating costs this winter

Federal officials warning of increase in home heating costs this winter
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A federal agency on Wednesday warned that U.S. households are expected to spend more on energy this year than they have "the past several winters," particularly those that rely on propane or heating oil for their primary source.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report on Wednesday predicting that half of U.S. households that primarily heat their homes with natural gas will pay about 30 percent more this year. This amount could fluctuate between a 22 percent or 50 percent increase, depending on what winter conditions are like.

Around 40 percent of households that primarily use electricity to heat their homes will spend about 6 percent more on energy, though the actual amount could range anywhere from 4 to 15 percent, according to the EIA.

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As the EIA noted, only around 5 percent of U.S. homes primarily heat with propane. These households are projected to spent 54 percent more this year than last year. If the winter is colder than average then this projection could rise to 94 percent more — or fall to 29 percent if it is a warmer winter.

The 4 percent of homes that primarily use heating oil, meanwhile, are expected to pay approximately 43 percent more than they did last year, 59 more if it is colder and 30 percent more if it is warmer.

Based on the most recent winter forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the EIA said this winter would be slightly colder than last year and closer to average temperatures that have been recorded for the past 10 years.

"On average across the United States, we expect prices for all fuels to be higher than in recent winters. Rising wholesale commodity prices for natural gas, crude oil, and petroleum products are being passed through to retail prices," the EIA said.

"Although we attribute price increases over the past year to several factors, the main reason wholesale prices of natural gas, crude oil, and petroleum products have risen is that fuel demand has increased from recent lows faster than production," the agency added.

Broken down by regions, the Northeast is projected to experience the highest change in energy prices across all forms of home heating, according to the EIA's report.