Plenty of Americans will be finding pleasant surprises when opening their energy bills this winter, as crude oil prices continue to fall and cause both heating oil and propane costs to decrease as well. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook report, which was just released at the beginning of December, Americans heating their houses with oil can expect to pay about 15% less in heating costs than they paid last winter, and homes heated with propane will see an estimated 27% reduction in heating costs as well.
Although heating costs are ultimately dependent on how cold the winter gets, the current prices of oil in the U.S. suggest that heating costs will be lower than in previous years. Currently, the average prices of gas in the U.S. is $3.09 per gallon, which is 20% lower than the price one year ago, and 15% lower than what was predicted back in October 2014.
Even though data from the National Weather Service shows that this past November was unusually cold in multiple regions across the country, research groups still predict that the 2014-2015 winter season overall will be warmer than last year — and to such an extent that households in particularly cold Northern regions will certainly notice lower heating bills.
As an Energy Global analysis notes, the Northeast region of the U.S. consumes the most heating oil for space heating purposes, and an estimated 24% of homes in these states rely primarily on heating oil (which is expected to see the biggest drop in cost throughout the coming winter). Alternative heating sources include natural gas (used by around 50% of homes in the Northeast), electricity (used by about 39%), and propane (clocking in at a low 5% of all home heating systems in the region).
These reports can definitely seem a bit confusing for homeowners looking to replace their heating systems but unsure which fuel sources will be the most cost-effective in long the run — and unfortunately, as positive as these latest oil and propane reports are, it should noted that the prices tend to fluctuate often. Rather than looking at specific prices from specific years, it’s advantageous for homeowners to look at the bigger picture when picking out a heating system.
“Lower oil prices equate to lower heating bills because even if your consumption stays the same, or even increases slightly, the lower basis will help keep overall expenses down. To really save big, consider implementing conservation measures and using your savings from lower fuel costs this winter to fund your investment in saving more year after year,” said Tom Casey, Owner of Climate Partners located in Milford, CT.
While analysts cannot yet predict just how much Americans will save on heating costs this winter, there’s no doubt that numerous homes across the country will see a much-deserved reprieve in energy costs after this season.