How much will it cost to heat our homes this Winter? Heating costs will depend in part on our primary heating fuel (natural gas, oil, electricity, propane, wood) and household consumption. Heating fuel prices and consumption will increase this winter according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Given the number of employees continuing to work from home, it is no surprise our household consumption continues to rise.
Natural gas is used by nearly half of U.S. households as the primary heating fuel. It is estimated that natural gas will cost $746 on average (or 30% higher) than last winter. Higher expected prices and consumption are the factors driving this cost increase.
4% of U.S. households use heating oil which is estimated to cost $1,734 (or 43% more) on average this winter. An increase of 43% for heating oil is due to the retail heating oil prices increasing 33%. Higher prices for crude oil and higher refining margins are driving up heating oil prices. Oil heat consumption is expected to increase 8% compared to last winter.
41% of U.S. households rely on electric heat pumps or electric resistance heaters for a primary heat source. This winter, electricity will cost an estimated $1,268 on average representing a 6% increase. Higher electricity consumption and a 5% increase in residential electricity prices is the reason electric heat prices are rising.
Nearly all U.S. households use electricity in some form. Electric heaters are also commonly used as a secondary heating source in many U.S. homes.
5% of U.S. households use propane as primary heat fuel. Beginning in 2022 the Winter Fuels Outlook will include propane forecasts for the South in addition to the Northeast and Midwest. Households in these regions will spend $631 on average (or 54% more) for propane this winter.
In the Northeast, households will spend $2,012 on average (or 47% more) for propane this winter. A 47% increase in propane expenditures is due to the expected 42% higher propane price and 3% increase in household consumption.
Cord wood (or wood pellets) is the primary heat fuel for approximately 1.7 million U.S. households (1.3% of the total). However, another 8% of households use wood as a secondary source of heat, making wood second to electricity as a supplemental heating fuel for U.S. households.
- Households in the Northeast rely on heating oil more than in any other region
- About 18% of households in the Northeast use heating oil for heating, down from 27% a decade ago
- An increasing number of homes in the Northeast have switched to natural gas or electricity for primary space heating needs
- As of 2015, one in four rural U.S. households used wood for primary or secondary space heating, compared with 6% of urban households
- Wood use was most common in New England, where 21% of households used wood as either a primary or secondary source of heat
- Nearly two-thirds of homes in the South heat primarily with electricity
Note: “Winter” in the statistics above includes the months of October through March.
Source for Statistics: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Read more: U.S. Energy Information Administration Winter Fuels 2021-2022 Forecast
Heating Fuel Price Comparison
To find out how your heating fuel price compares in Massachusetts: Commonwealth of Massachusetts Home Heating Fuel Price Comparison
Given significant fluctuations in our winter so far with the hottest December on record in the U.S. (2021) and one of the coldest days in 3 years (January, 2022), it will be very interesting to see if heating costs in the Northeast meet or beat this forecast. Wherever you spend your time this winter, keep warm and safe!
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