This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 07, 2009

EIA Forecasts Lower Heating Bills this Winter

The average U.S. household will spend $960 for space heating during this winter's heating season, marking an 8% decrease from last year, according to DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook," released on October 6, attributes most of the savings to lower fuel prices, particularly for natural gas, which is experiencing a slump in prices due to a growing supply that currently exceeds the demand. The EIA expects natural gas inventories to reach a record high of more than 3.8 trillion cubic feet by the end of October. Propane is produced during natural gas processing, so propane inventories are also higher than normal. As a result, households heated with these fuels will achieve the greatest savings this winter, with natural gas users seeing a 12% decline in winter heating bills and propane users seeing a 14% decline. Those using heating oil or electricity are projected to experience more modest declines of about 2% from last year. The EIA defines the winter heating season as running from October 1 to March 31 of the following year. See the EIA press release and the "Short-Term Energy Outlook."

The EIA has also increased its projected drop in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for 2009. Back in August, when the EIA started projecting annual energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, it forecast a 5% drop in 2009, while the current "Short-Term Energy Outlook" forecasts a 5.9% drop for the year. A number of factors contributed to the projected decline, including an increased use of renewable energy, the substitution of natural gas for coal in electric power plants, a decrease in industrial demand for coal, less natural gas use in industry and buildings, and a drop in demand for jet fuel, diesel fuel, and heating oil. Coal experienced the biggest drop in demand, at 10.1%, accounting for 63% of the drop in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are dominated by energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, so the decline in the latter would generally suggest an overall lowering of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. See the EIA press release and the EIA supplemental report, "Understanding the Decline in CO2 Emissions in 2009."