2014's Harsh Winter Means Steep Rises in Heat Costs

3/15/2014 10:09:40 AM

Heating and electricity bills have soared in recent weeks. On Wednesday, the Energy Department released a report revealing just how expensive it was to both cook and keep warm this winter.

People who depend on propane and live predominantly in rural and Midwestern areas will likely spend about 54 percent more this winter than last. Meanwhile, those who rely on heating oil -- mostly in the Northeast -- will be paying 7 percent more, natural gas consumers 10 percent more and electricity consumers 5 percent more.

Catherine Yeulet/iStock

Winter energy costs for propane heating in the Midwest are expected to be $2,212 per household, $759 more than DOE predicted in October. It estimates homes using heating oil will spend $197 more than it had projected, at $2,243.

Economists said the rise in heating fuel prices is using up money consumers might otherwise spend on restaurants and clothes. The impact, however, will likely be counteracted by the decline in gasoline prices, which averaged about 25 cents a gallon less this winter than last year.

"The sustained cold weather that overtook much of the United States during January and February increased demand for space heating fuels, disrupted crude oil and natural gas production, as well as refinery, rail and pipeline operations," the report said, "and challenged the ability of energy infrastructure to deliver fuel" (Clifford Krauss, New York Times, March 12).

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500.

E&E Publishing is the leading source for comprehensive, daily coverage of environmental and energy issues.

Click here to start a free trial to E&E's information services.

Continue Reading on EENews.com >