More than half of U.S. households are expected to spend less on winter heating this year, a recent Energy Information Agency (EIA) analysis found. The EIA’s annual Winter Fuels Outlook predicts that households that use natural gas as a heating source, as well as households in the West, will see lower costs this winter. About 46% of homes in the U.S. are heated with natural gas, including more than half of those in Pennsylvania. However, homes that use heating oil will likely see higher bills because an expected colder winter in the Northeast, where this form of heating is most common, will lead to increased demand that will offset lower prices. Spending on oil heating is expected to rise to $1,850 from $1,720 in the most likely case. The report estimates homes that heat with natural gas will pay about $600 this year, down from $760 last winter, due to lower prices and a surplus of reserves. The analysis looks at three scenarios, and even with a colder-than-predicted winter, homeowners are still expected to spend less, at about $650. Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and 30-year weather trends, the EIA assumes temperatures for the winter of 2023–24 in the eastern part of the country will be slightly colder than last winter but warmer than the average of the previous 10 winters. In the West, this winter is expected to be warmer than the very cold one last year and warmer than the average of the previous 10 winters. Homes that heat with electricity, representing 42% of the total nationwide, are expected to spend about the same amount as last year, while those that use propane will see varying costs depending on the region and how cold the winter is, the EIA said. Natural gas prices have fallen significantly since last winter and are expected to be 21% lower this winter, according to the EIA. In addition to being the heat source for almost half the U.S. homes, natural gas is also the most common fuel being used for generating electricity. The EIA also expects that electric prices will be down slightly this winter. There are always unknowns that can affect heating costs, including colder-than-expected weather and supply issues, which could be in play this winter. The continuing war in Ukraine still has the potential to affect the global energy supply, as does any potential widening of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
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