The Energy information Administration (EIA) published its winter fuels outlook today, and it brings good news for homeowners. This winter, the EIA said it expects the average US household to spend $84 or 8% less on its home heating bill than it did last winter. Their projections are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA)most recent forecast of 2009-2010 winter weather, which is calling for it to be 1 percent warmer than last year.
But the projected savings vary, depending on what fuel you use and in what area of the country you live. Homeowners using natural gas or propane could see savings of 12% and 14% respectively. Record high natural gas stocks work in their favor. Those using electricity and heating oil could reduce their bills from last year too, but only by only about 2 percent. That's only because of warmer weather.
If weather forecasts are wrong, the picture changes a lot. If the weather in the US is 10 percent warmer than currently forecast, the savings from last year go up sharply to 13 % for heating oil buyers to 21% and 22% for natural gas and propane users respectively. Those with electric heat could see as much as a 6 % savings.
Let's Hope Forecast Is Correct
The scary part is if the weather is 10% colder than currently forecast. High stocks mean those with natural gas or propane heat will still save; just not as much—maybe 5 or 6 %. Those with electric heat will probably see a slight rise in their bill if it's colder than expected—maybe 2 %. But the unlucky ones warmed by oil could see their bills rise by around 10 percent. Let's hope the NOAA got their weather forecast right!