Winter Begins with Higher U.S. Heating Oil and Propane Prices

Heating Prices Graphic

U.S. residential heating oil and propane prices at the start of the 2018–2019 winter heating season were 23% and 4% higher, respectively, than at the start of the last heating season. During the winter months (October–March), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) conducts weekly surveys of residential heating oil and propane prices for many states through the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP).

EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts that residential heating oil and propane prices will remain higher throughout the winter, contributing to higher expenditures. Energy bills are also influenced by weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates that the 2018–2019 winter will be similar to last winter in much of the country. However, temperatures in the Midwest—the region with the most households that use propane for heating—are expected to be 3% warmer than last winter.

EIA’s latest STEO forecasts that, because of factors such as higher crude oil prices and lower fuel inventories, average heating oil and propane prices will be 18% higher and 1% higher than last winter, respectively. Prices for U.S. petroleum products such as heating oil and propane tend to follow changes in the Brent crude oil spot price, the most widely used global benchmark price for crude oil. The price of Brent crude oil on September 28, 2018, was $82 per barrel (b). EIA forecasts that Brent crude oil prices will average $79/b this winter, up from $64/b last winter.

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