Despite current cold, heating costs remain low this winter

WASHINGTON — With temperatures in the teens and single digits, most house heating systems are getting a workout this week, yet homeowners can still expect to pay less to keep warm this winter than last year.

Even before a record warm December in the Washington, D.C. region, the U.S. Energy Information Administration was already predicting lower home heating costs in 2015-2016, based on fuel prices and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s temperature outlook.

The average December temperature in Washington was 51 — more than 11 degrees warmer than normal — prompting prices to fall faster than expected.

After recently updating its October predictions, the EIA expects lower heating expenditures, regardless of what fuel is heating the home.

Home heating expenditures for customers with electricity are likely to be down 9 percent this winter. Electricity prices change much more slowly than prices of other heating fuels.

The EIA predicts those heating homes with natural gas will spend about 17 percent less — approximately $110 — on fuel this winter compared with last year. Most homes in the Washington area are heated with gas.

Forecast expenditures for propane continue to drop. Homes that primarily heat with propane are expected to pay about 24 percent less than last winter in the Washington area.

The biggest savings this winter will be for those who use heating oil. The average household that primarily heats with heating oil is expected to spend about 41 percent less — approximately $760 — this winter, based on lower oil prices.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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