Heating expenses for U.S. households are expected to be lower this winter than they were last winter, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The forecast for this winter calls for warmer temperatures compared to last winter.
EIA’s projections for winter heating expenses, between October and March, are based on fuel price and consumption forecasts from the EIA and weather forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Households that primarily use electricity or natural gas to heat their homes are expected to spend slightly less than last winter. Homes that use heating oil are projected to spend 4% less, and households that use propane are expected to spend 15% less. In the South, however, natural gas bills are projected to rise 4% as a result of higher regional natural gas prices.
The EIA uses heating degree days to measure colder or warmer winter weather. Heating degree days are daily temperature differences compared to a base temperature of 65 degrees. For example, a temperature of 45 degrees would be 20 heating degree days. Colder temperatures lead to more total heating degree days.
The United States is expected to have 3,635 heating degree days this winter, which is slightly lower (warmer) than the past 10 winters, according to the NOAA. Seven of the past 10 winters have been within 10% of NOAA’s forecast.
By the end of October, working natural gas inventories in the lower 48 states are expected to be 2% higher than the previous five-year average. The inventories were almost 30% lower than the previous five-year average on April 1.