There's good news in the air for your heat and air conditioning systems – residential heating costs this winter are expected to be at their lowest level in years, thanks to low fuel prices and what is projected to be a relatively mild cold season. An ongoing boom in natural gas production combined with a worldwide swoon in oil prices are at the root of the predictions, which, if they hold true, will put extra money in the pockets of American families across the nation. Read on to see how much you stand to save.
Warmer Weather, Lower Fuel Costs
The winter fuel projections were included in a recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. For now, El Niño conditions over the Pacific Ocean should mean a warmer winter, particularly east of the Rocky Mountains. “If winter temperatures come in as expected by U.S. government weather forecasters, U.S. consumers will pay less to stay warm this winter no matter what heating fuel they use,” Adam Sieminski, administrator of the Energy Information Administration, said in a statement.
For natural gas in particular, fuel costs could be the cheapest they've been in 14 years. “Natural gas prices are low, and look to stay that way," Karen Merkel, a spokesperson for National Fuel, told Pennsylvania news outlet WBFO. "That translates to the lowest winter heating season customer bill since 2001-2002.” That's great news for the nearly half of all American households who rely on gas for their winter heating – the EIA expects a 10 percent decrease in costs on average for gas customers.
Savings No Matter What Fuel Is Used
The outlook is even better for households that use fuel oil. Due to a plunge in oil prices dating back to last year, combined with the potential for warmer weather, oil users could see cost reductions of 25 percent compared to last year, with an average savings of $460. Even people who rely on propane and electricity should realize lower costs, with bills projected to come in at 21 percent and 3 percent less than last year, respectively.
The outlook does come with a caveat – predictions for both fuel prices and the weather can be fickle, so don't go and spend all your projected savings just yet. Last year, the EIA made similar claims, only to see the winter turn out colder than anticipated. People still saved on their heat and air conditioning bills due to low fuel costs, just not as much as had been originally projected.
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