Americans can expect significantly higher heating bills this winter.
On October 14, the United States Energy Information Administration’s winter fuels outlook predicted the largest increase in winter heating prices since 2008.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Nearly half of U.S. households that warm their homes with mainly natural gas can expect to spend an average of 30% more on their bills compared with last year. The agency added that bills would be 50% higher if the winter is 10% colder than average and 22% higher if the winter is 10% warmer than average.
The forecast rise in costs, according to the report, will result in an average natural-gas home-heating bill of $746 from Oct. 1 to March 31, compared with about $573 during the same period last year.
“We are very concerned about the affordability of heat this winter for all customers, but in particular those who struggle every day to afford their utility services,” National Consumer Law Center staff attorney Karen Lusson told the outlet.
The Energy Information Administration’s report comes as oil prices surge to the highest level in years. OPEC — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries — and various allies are gradually increasing oil supply rather than increasing global output as requested by consumers.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has reportedly been speaking to oil and gas companies about lowering the cost of fuel.
Energy costs are rising worldwide, in some cases leading to shortages in major economies like China and India. In the United States, the average retail cost of a gallon of gas is at a seven-year high, and winter fuel costs are expected to surge, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Oil-and-gas production remains below the nation’s peak reached in 2019.
The talks with energy companies touched on several issues, including prices, according to a third person familiar with the discussions. The administration has been in discussions with the oil industry over limiting methane emissions in recent months.
Beyond the oil and gas crisis, the Biden administration is dealing with supply chain bottlenecks that could cause product availability issues as the United States enters the holiday season — a crucial period of economic activity.
“There will be things that people can’t get,” a White House spokesperson warned. “At the same time, a lot of these goods are hopefully substitutable by other things. I don’t think there’s any real reason to be panicked, but we all feel the frustration and there’s a certain need for patience to help get through a relatively short period of time.”