Warmer Winter Keeps Heating Costs Down, Except Oil

February 16 --The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released its February winter heating forecast. As a result of the warmer winter, EIA is projecting a continuing decline in average heating costs, except for heating oil, which would show a small increase.

This is the third consecutive monthly EIA report in which the forecast of average household expenditures for heating fuels has been lowered because of the continuing unusually warm weather for most of the nation. Average household heating oil expenditures are now expected to increase by only 1 percent this winter heating season (October 1 to March 31) compared with last winter. Natural gas and propane expenditures are projected to decline by 11 percent and 5 percent, respectively, and electricity expenditures are 4 percent lower than last winter's levels.

According to estimates from the EIA data by the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association (NEADA), average prices for the winter of 2011 versus 2012, are as follows: natural gas ($724 to $643), electricity ($961 to $918), propane ($1,817 to $1,729), and heating oil ($2300 to $2326). The average cost of home heating this winter will likely decline from $990 last winter to $905, NEADA said.

NEADA also estimated the purchasing power of LIHEAP for winter heating would show a steep decline this winter from 42.1 percent to 34 percent of the cost of home heating, and that the average LIHEAP grant would drop from $417 last winter to $308 this year.

Est. Average % of Home Heating Purchased With LIHEAP (FY 08 - FY 12)
Fiscal Year
Heating Oil
Natural Gas
Propane
Electricity
All Fuels
2008
15.6%
38.6%
17.5%
38.7%
32.5%
2009
27.4%
55.5%
27.5%
52.6%
47.8%
2010
26.2%
64.0%
28.7%
50.5%
49.7%
2011
18.1%
57.6%
22.9%
43.4%
42.1%
2012
31.2%
47.9%
17.8%
33.6%
34.0%

Est. Home Heating Cost (2007-08 to 2011-12)
Winter Heating Season
Heating Oil
Natural Gas
Propane
Electricity
All Fuels
2007-08
$2,108
$854
$1,883
$853
$1,014
2008-09
$1,801
$889
$1,795
$938
$1,033
2009-10
$1,833
$751
$1,674
$952
$968
2010-11
$2,300
$724
$1,817
$961
$990
2011-12
$2,326
$643
$1,729
$918
$905
%Change:      2008-11
27.7%
-18.6%
1.2%
2.5%
-4.2%
%Change:      2008-12
29.2%
-27.7%
-3.7%
-2.1%
-12.4%
%Change:      2010-11
27.2%
-3.6%
8.5%
0.9%
2.3%
%Change:      2011-12
1.1%
-12.6%
-5.1%
-4.7%
-9.4%

Est. Households Served & Average Grant (FY 08 - FY 12)
Fiscal Year
Appropriation
(in thousands)
Households
(in thousands)
Average
Grant
2008
$2,570,000
5,798
$330
2009
$5,100,000
7,684
$494
2010
$5,100,000
8,382
$481
2011
$4,700,000
8,910
$417
2012
$3,471,672
8,910
$308

Source: EIA and NEADA

Page last updated: September 9, 2013