EIA predicts higher natural gas, electricity prices this winter

By Anna Simet | October 09, 2014

The U.S. EIA has released its short-term energy and winter fuels outlook, which predicts that, albeit paying higher prices for natural gas (6 percent) and electricity (4 percent in the Midwest, 2 percent in the Northeast), homeowners will enjoy overall lower heating expenditures this winter.

Lower prices will be paid for propane and heating oil, and users can expect to see bills 27 percent and 15 percent lower, respectively,

Though prices for natural gas and electricity are expected to be higher, homeowners can expect to see lower overall heating bills in accordance with milder weather predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as much as 27 percent less for propane users and 2 percent less for electricity users.

The report indicates that while there are no readily available sources for estimating wood consumption or prices at the regional or national level, as of 2013, 2.5 million U.S. households use wood as a primary heating fuel, a 38 percent increase since 2004. About 8 percent of households use wood as a secondary source of heat, making wood second only to electricity as a supplemental heating fuel. New England’s wood home heating percentage is nearly twice the national rate at 20 percent, or 1.1 million homes, according to the report, mainly rural households.

EIA projects that total renewables used for electricity and heat generation will grow by 2.2 percent in 2014. Conventional hydropower generation is projected to fall by 4.2 percent, while nonhydropower renewables rise by 5.6 percent, surpassing hydropower on an annual basis for the first time.

U.S. wood heat consumption is expected to top out at a 2.16 quadrillion Btu in 2014, and a slightly lower 2.14 quadrillion Btu in 2015.