Winter heating bills expected to rise, feds say

With gasoline prices already spiking, consumers have another concern as the winter season approaches -- heating bills.

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According to a news release on Wednesday from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, households should expect to see their heating bills rise as much as 54% compared to last winter. The agency projected that due to colder weather expected this winter, propane costs will rise by 54%, heating oil expenses will jump 43%, natural gas prices will increase by 30% and electric bills will be 6% higher.

The statistics were from the agency’s Winter Fuels Outlook report, which was released Wednesday.

“We forecast that U.S. households will spend more money on energy this winter than last winter, especially households that primarily heat with propane or heating oil, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its release. “Forecast expenditures are based on our expectations of high retail energy prices -- many are already at multiyear highs -- and of slightly more energy consumption per household than in the previous winter. Notably, many energy prices reached multiyear lows last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to The Associated Press, nearly half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average of $746 this winter, which is a 30% increase from 2020. Those in the Midwest could see their bills rise more than 49%, according to the AP, which cited the EIA report.

The second-most used source for heating is electricity, used by 41% of U.S. households, the AP reported.

“This is going to create significant hardship for people in the bottom third of the country,” Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, told the AP. “You can tell them to cut back and try to turn down the heat at night, but many low-income families already do that. Energy was already unaffordable to them.”

In a statement, Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Exploration & Production Council, criticized the Biden administration for its policies that she said made it more difficult for U.S. producers to supply oil and natural gas.

“To ensure we have a stable and affordable supply of energy here in the United States, the Biden Administration should support the domestic production of oil and natural gas, ensure the continued production on federal land, work with the industry on sensible and smart methane regulations, and stop calling for higher taxes on the American oil and gas industry,” Bradbury said, according to NPR.


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