U.S. home heating bills seen much higher this winter, EIA says

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FILE PHOTO: A flare burns excess natural gas in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas
FILE PHOTO: A flare burns excess natural gas in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, U.S. November 23, 2019. REUTERS/Angus Mordant

October 13, 2021

(Reuters) -U.S. consumers will spend more to heat their homes this winter (October-March) than last year due mostly to higher energy commodity prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected in its Winter Fuels Outlook on Wednesday.

Households that use propane and heating oil will likely spend much more than last year, EIA said.

EIA said it based its cost estimates on expectations of high retail energy prices — many are already at multiyear highs — and on forecasts for slightly colder weather this winter boosting household energy consumption over last year.

Last year, many energy prices reached multiyear lows due to coronavirus demand destruction. The wholesale price of natural gas, the most used heating fuel in the United States, averaged just $2.11 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) in 2020, their lowest in 25 years.

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 supply, in part because of economic recovery after the pandemic, EIA said.

Depending on where in the country people live, EIA said residential costs this winter – residents’ costs are higher than wholesale prices – will rise to about $11-$14 per mcf for natural gas, about $2.50-$3.50 per gallon for propane, and almost $3.50 per gallon for heating oil.

That compares with last winter’s residential costs of around $10-12 per thousand cubic feet for natural gas, $1.50-$2.50 per gallon for propane, and $2.50 per gallon for heating oil.

EIA said it will provide more details when it releases its Short-Term Energy Outlook later Wednesday.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Jonathan Oatis)

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