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

January 22, 2003

EIA Updates Projection of U.S. Winter Heating Costs

DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) updated its projection of winter heating costs in the United States in early January, predicting more severe financial impacts for those using natural gas for heating. Compared to last year, households using natural gas will likely pay 34 percent more this winter; back in November, the EIA projected an increase of only 25 percent. Increases for other heating fuels stayed close to earlier projections: Propane users will see an increase of 20 percent over last year, fuel oil users will see a 43 percent increase, and electricity users should see their bills go up by 12 percent over last year. Although winter temperatures have been average so far, the cutoff of oil exports from Venezuela and sharply falling levels of natural gas in storage have caused fuel prices to rise rapidly, although those price increases may not be showing up on heating bills yet. See the EIA Short Term Energy Outlook.

Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported on January 9th that the current El Nino has reached its "mature stage" and will linger through the end of spring. That should bring warmer-than-average temperatures across the northern part of the country, lowering the cost of heating. See the NOAA press release.