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

November 17, 2004

EIA Boosts Projections for Winter Heating Bills

The latest projections for this winter's household heating costs hold bad news for U.S. households, as bills are now expected to rise even higher than last month's projections. According to the latest "Short-Term Energy Outlook" from DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), households using heating oil will be hit the hardest, with energy bills rising 37 percent above last winter's bills. Last month, the EIA had expected heating oil bills to rise only 28 percent. Those using propane for heating will also be hit hard, with bills increasing nearly 26 percent above last winter's bills, while households using natural gas will see a 15 percent increase in heating bills.

The increases are mainly due to higher energy costs this year. According to the EIA report, U.S. spot prices for crude oil ranged from under $49 per barrel to more than $56 per barrel in late October and early November, largely because of production losses in the Gulf of Mexico caused by Hurricane Ivan. Those production losses also caused natural gas prices to increase. The EIA also noted additional increases in world demand for oil, and has boosted its projected growth in demand for 2004 to 3.5 percent above 2003 levels. Last month's report had projected a growth in demand of 3.3 percent. See the EIA's "Short-Term Energy Outlook."

Oil prices have fallen below $50 per barrel in recent weeks. See the latest price trends from the New York Mercantile Exchange.