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US home heating costs expected to notch slightly higher this winter


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US home heating costs expected to notch slightly higher this winter

While it might not be much colder than last winter, most U.S. households can expect higher heating expenditures from October through March 2019 compared to the same period in 2017-2018.

Higher expected winter heating expenditures are mainly due to higher prices for heating fuels as temperatures are expected to be similar to last winter in much of the country, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its "Winter Fuels Outlook," released Oct. 10 as a supplement to its monthly "Short-term Energy Outlook."

Average increases vary by fuel. Expenditures are forecast to rise 5% for natural gas, 20% for home heating oil and 3% for electricity, while propane expenditures are forecast to remain similar to 2017.

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The agency's short-term projections of heating demand are based on the most recent temperature forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which indicated the 2018–2019 winter will be 1% colder than last winter, which is close to the average of the previous 10 winters.

Expenditures for Midwest households using propane as their primary heating source are expected to decline because the Midwest, the region with the highest concentration of propane heating, is the only region expected to have warmer weather this winter.

The choice of primary heating fuel varies considerably by region. Natural gas is the most common space heating fuel in every region except the South, where electric heating is more prevalent. Heating oil is much more common in the Northeast than in other regions, while propane is more common in the Midwest.