In the middle of the month, two major reports came out that we like to pay attention to: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Winter Outlook and the Energy Information Administration’s Winter Fuels Outlook. These two reports give us a sneak peek on what to expect for the winter and how it may impact our heating bills. If you have questions about how much it will cost to heat your home in winter 2018-2019, here is a summary of both reports.
A Mixed Forecast: Winter 2018-2019 in New England
According to NOAA, the United States is predicted to experience a warmer-than-average winter this year. El Nino is expected, which sets up a season with wetter conditions in the southern portion of the country, while warmer, drier conditions may take place up here in the north.
However, predictions for precipitation are a bit less clear. According to NOAA, New England has equal chances for more or less than the same amount of precipitation we got last year. States to the south of us, like the Mid-Atlantic states and states in the southeast are predicted to get higher than average precipitation this year. How much of that might continue to ride up the coast and hit New England remains to be seen. Forecasters caution that it’s hard to predict such information more than a week in advance.
Overall, the forecast from NOAA is mixed: a milder winter may be beneficial to some, but not others. A vague forecast about precipitation will have us watching future forecasts more closely.
The Fuel Outlook: The Cost to Heat Your Home Will Rise This Winter
News of a milder winter forecast may have some homeowners hopeful this winter, as the Winter Fuel Outlook predicts a rise in fuel costs this winter.
If you heat your home with natural gas, the EIA predicts that you will spend approximately $30 more this winter than you did last winter, a cost of 5% more. If we experience a winter that is 10% colder than forecasted by NOAA, that cost may rise to 16% more than last year. Consumption of natural gas is expected to increase only slightly (1%), but there is an expectation for the price of natural gas prices to rise about 8% higher than last winter.
If you heat your home with propane and you are located here in New England, you will likely pay about $22 more (1%) this winter than you did last winter. Should we experience a winter that is 10% colder, that could go up to about 15% more over last year. The price of propane is not as easy to predict as some of the other fuels because the cost is very dependent on region. Some regions are significantly more expensive than others. It should be noted that only 5% of all US households use propane as their primary heat source.
If you heat your home primarily with electricity, the EIA predicts you will pay about $36 (3%) more on your electricity bills this winter. This is because of an expected increase of about 1% more electricity consumption (heating and non-heating) during the winter months, and rising electricity prices. If the winter is colder than forecast by NOAA, the could rise to $99 (9%) higher.
If you heat for home primarily with heating oil, your forecast is most expensive this year. The EIA predicts that households that use heating oil as their primary heat fuel will spend about $269 (20%) this winter than they did last winter thanks to a forecasted 50 cent per gallon increase in retail prices over last year (that’s an 18% increase). A slight uptick in consumption (1%) and the higher fuel prices make this the most expensive winter in the last 4 years. A colder than forecast winter could see an increase of $458 (33%) over last year. Even if the winter is warmer than expected, oil heat customers would still pay, on average, about $102 (7%) more than the did last year. According to the EIA, higher crude oil prices other market factors are the reasons for the drastic increase in price.
If you are already wondering about ways you can cut down on some of the potential cost for heating your home this winter, we have a few ideas that might help. Taking the time now to do some home improvements and make a plan isn’t a bad idea. Be sure to carefully evaluate your habits and routines to make sure that your home is as energy and heat-efficient as possible.
Looking to evaluate your home heating and lighting needs? We specialize in solar panels and partner with other great organizations who can perform a whole-home energy audit on your property. If you have questions about how you can prepare for winter and make the most out of your energy use, give us a call today so we can get started.
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