The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 8, 2013

Government report: Most heating bills will rise this winter

— WASHINGTON - The federal government predicted today that most households will pay more for heat this winter.

Heating oil users will catch a slight break, but still pay near-record prices to keep warm.

Prices for natural gas, electricity and propane should be higher, the primary reason that more than 90 percent of U.S. homes will incur higher heating expenses.

Natural gas users will see the biggest percentage increase after two years of historically low prices. Their heating bills should rise to an average of $679, the Energy Department said in its annual outlook for heating costs. That is about 13 percent higher than a year ago but still 4 percent below the average for the previous five winters.

Homes relying on electricity for heat, about 38 percent of the U.S., will likely pay about 2 percent more compared with last year.

For heating oil customers, there is good news and bad. Their average bill should drop 2 percent. But they’ll still pay an average of $2.046, the second highest on record behind last year’s $2,092.

Just over half of U.S. households use natural gas for heating. Many of the 38 percent of U.S. households that use electric heat live in warm regions where heating demand is not high. Only 6 percent use heating oil, but those homes tend to be in New England and New York, where winter heating needs are high.

Some analysts are concerned about a spike in heating oil prices. That’s because the fuels that refiners make alongside heating oil, including diesel and jet fuel, are in high demand around the world and inventories are low.

“If there’s one type of product that could catch fire and go higher, it’s heating oil,” says Tom Kloza, Chief Oil Analyst at the Oil Price Information Service and GasBuddy.com.

Natural gas should average $11 per thousand cubic feet, the government said. That’s $1.33 more than last year, but still below the nearly $13 per thousand cubic feet that homeowners paid in the winter of 2008-2009.

The Energy Department expects temperatures in the Northeast to be about 3 percent colder than a year ago, resulting in a 3 percent increase in consumption of heating oil. Bills will be lower, however, because the average price for heating oil will drop to $3.68 a gallon from $3.87. About 25 percent of homeowners in the Northeast use oil for heat.

But the government cautions that if temperatures are about 10 percent below expectations nationally, heating oil costs could rise around 9 percent from a year ago. That would mean an average bill of $2.280, a record.

Dave Streit, a meteorologist at the Commodity Weather Group, which forecasts weather patterns to predict energy demand, expects slightly cooler than normal temperatures.

“It will look like a colder winter than what we’ve seen over the last couple of years,” he says. “But nothing compared to the harsh winters we had in the two years before that.”

Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, which advocates for heating assistance for low income families, worries that high heating oil prices, colder weather, and cuts in federal heating assistance will leave more families vulnerable.

In 2010, Congress set aside $5.1 billion for heating assistance. This year, Wolfe is expecting $3 billion.

“Two years ago we could help close to 2 million more families than we can now,” Wolfe says.

The Energy Department predicts that heating demand will fall 0.3 percent nationwide. The Northeast is expected to experience the biggest increase, up 3.4 percent, while the West is expected to see demand drop by 3.1 percent.

 

1
Text Only
News
  • Arizona tribe set to prosecute first non-Indian under a new law

    PASCUA YAQUI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. — Tribal police chief Michael Valenzuela drove through darkened desert streets, turned into a Circle K convenience store and pointed to the spot beyond the reservation line where his officers used to take the non-Indian men who battered Indian women.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Danville parents hope strike ends quickly

    DANVILLE ““ First-grader Madison Wild was sad she missed school Thursday.

    April 19, 2014

  • Schools ask state to waive 180-day rule

    Three area school districts have asked the Pennsylvania Department of Education to add up their hours instead of their days in order to reach the required amount of instruction time in the school year.

    April 19, 2014

  • Former Bucknell star in NBA playoffs

    ATLANTA — It really hit Mike Muscala a few days ago when he was listening to the Nets’ starting lineup at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

    April 19, 2014

  • State: Discard raw milk from Greenfield Dairy

    MIDDLEBURG — Consumers should discard raw milk purchased recently from the Greenfield Dairy of Middleburg, which also has temporarily suspended production after Listeria monocytogenes was discovered in the product following routine testing, the state Department of Agriculture announced today.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penn State police: Three posed nude at Nittany shrine

    STATE COLLEGE — Penn State police say three male students who reportedly posed nude for a photo at the university’s Nittany Lion Shrine face school discipline.

    April 18, 2014

  • State unemployment rate drops to 6 percent in March

    HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s jobless rate has continued its steady decline. The state Department of Labor and Industry says unemployment fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 6 percent in March.

    April 18, 2014

  • Report: Pennsylvania forests impacted by drilling

    PITTSBURGH — A small portion of Pennsylvania state forest land has been impacted by shale gas drilling, but many questions remain about how to manage the politically sensitive issue that is opposed by many residents, according to a new report.

    April 18, 2014

  • TRAFFIC ADVISORY: Route 45 east of Montandon

    MONTANDON — A paving project is slowing traffic today on Route 45 east of Montandon.

    April 18, 2014

  • Accident victims remain in critical condition this morning

    DANVILLE - Victims from serious traffic accidents the past two days remain in critical condition this morning at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

    April 18, 2014

The Daily Marquee
Poll

How do you eat your chocolate Easter bunny?

Feet first
Tail first
Ears first
     View Results
Photo Galleries
The Valley

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.