It’s been warm this October, but that doesn’t mean that we are going to skip winter this year. Not only is winter coming, but government agencies and fuel distributers are already thinking about the costs of keeping our homes warm. How much is it going to cost to heat your home this winter? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s Winter Fuels Outlook, it’s likely going to cost more to heat your home this winter thanks to a forecast of colder temperatures as well as predicted higher fuel costs.
The Winter to Come
Though we have had an unseasonably warm October, NOAA predicts that the entire country can expect colder temperatures this winter. You’re probably thinking, “wasn’t last winter one of the warmest ones on record?” Yes, actually, Boston recorded its fifth-warmest winter ever last year. That’s part of the problem. It doesn’t take much to make this winter colder than last year’s. On average across the country, it’s expected that this winter will be 13% colder than last year. However, predictions are not finalities: we know that the weather can be unpredictable, with recent winters (2013-14, 2014-15) that have been colder than normal and others, like our last two winters, being significantly warmer than normal.
This forecast means that no matter how you choose to heat your home, you are likely going to use more fuel than you did last year, no matter the price of fuel. Taking the time now to evaluate your home’s insulation, windows, doors and other areas means that you can save on costs by better sealing in the warmth.
Heating with Natural Gas
Nearly half of all U.S. households heat with natural gas primarily. Massachusetts is the same. According to the Massachusetts government, 50.1% of Massachusetts households use natural gas to heat their homes (compared to 37.6% of the rest of New England). The EIA anticipates that natural gas households will spend $69 more this winter than last winter, a 12% increase. This forecast is based on a projected increase in consumption (because of the forecasted colder winter) and a 2% increase in price.
Heating with Oil
Almost 30% of Massachusetts households and almost 40% of New England households heat primarily with oil. Unfortunately, the EIA is projecting that oil-heat households may spend on average $215 more to heat their homes this winter than last winter, a 17% increase in cost. This reflects a 10% higher price in the fuel itself, and predicted higher consumption thanks to the colder winter to come.
Heating with Electricity
About 15% of Massachusetts households and 13% of New England households heat with electricity. The EIA projects that electric-heating households will see an 8% increase in their heating cost this winter, costing $74 on average. This assumes 6% higher consumption due to cold temperatures, and also a 2% increase in electricity prices.
Heating with Propane
Only about 3% of Massachusetts households and 5% of New England households use propane as the primary heat for their homes. If you do, the EIA predicts that it will cost about $221 more to heat your home this winter over last winter, an 11% increase due to a projected 6% increase in cost and the expectation of cooler temperatures.
Winter is an inevitability here in New England. Climate change has made it unpredictable, but there are some things that we can be sure of: the temperatures will drop, the precipitation will come, and your home will need to be warm. Increases in prices and a projected colder winter (though still comparable to the average of the precious five winters) means that it will likely cost you more to heat your home this winter. However, there is plenty that you can do to prepare. Stay tuned to our blog for learning more practical tips and tricks for keeping your home warm and efficient. If you are interested in learning more about the winter fuel outlook, check out the EIA website today. You can read the entire Winter Fuels Outlook here.
Wondering what a solar energy company can do about your winter heat bill? If you heat your home with electricity, there is a lot we can do. If you are using another fuel, we might be able to offer other solutions for your household energy budget. Give us a call and ask your questions. We look forward to showing just how much of a difference we can make for you!
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