Americans will pay less to heat their homes this winter mostly because of expected warmer temperatures, the Department of Energy forecast Tuesday.
Those using propane for heating —- mostly Midwesterners who saw their costs skyrocket during last winter's frigid cold — will see the biggest drop: an estimated 27% or $767 this season, according to the "Winter Fuels Outlook" by DOE's Energy Information Administration.
Others will benefit, too. Utility bills will fall for those relying on oil by 15% or $362 and electricity by 2% or $17. They'll fall about 5% for the half of U.S. households that primarily use natural gas. These differences are due to the projected cost of each fuel. While prices for propane and oil are expected to fall, those for natural gas and electricity will likely rise.
"U.S. households in all regions of the country can expect to pay lower heating bills this winter, because temperatures are forecast to be warmer than last winter and that means less demand for heat," said EIA Administrator Adam Sieminski.
Last winter was unusually cold — 11% colder than the previous 10-year national average — and it drove up heating bills.
This coming winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts much warmer temperatures east of the Rocky Mountains — up 16% in the Midwest, 12% in the South and 11% in the Northeast. In the West, it expects temperatures will be 5% warmer.
Even if NOAA is wrong and temperatures are 10% colder than forecast, today's forecast still expects homes that heat with oil or propane will have lower costs. Those using natural gas and electricity will see a slight uptick of 6% and 2%, respectively.