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A heavy burden: Winter energy bills are going up, no matter how you heat your home

Corey Carlson of Anderson Fuel walks towards a house to fill with home heating oil which has risen to over $5.00 a gallon on March 8, 2022, in Scituate, Mass. (Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/TNS)

Winter heating bills will be higher this year for most homeowners, regardless of how you heat your home.

Residential customers will spend about 28% more to heat with natural gas than last winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, though gas prices appear to have stabilized somewhat since dramatic increases at the end of last winter.

Electric power will also cost more, although there are indications that they may be peaking, and customers could have choices with competitive suppliers in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, prices for propane and kerosene are also increasing. “You can’t even find kerosene for $6 or $7 a gallon right now,” said Tom Kloza, the global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service.

Unprecedented price gyrations

Perhaps hardest hit will be customers who use fuel oil for heating, which still accounts for a fair number of households in Northeastern states. According to the Energy Department, heating oil customers can expect to pay more than $5 a gallon, or 45% more this year than last.

“We’re seeing gyrations in pricing that I’ve never seen in my life,” said Doug Woosnam, 78, executive vice president of the Delaware Valley Energy Marketers Association in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, which represents heating oil dealers in the Philadelphia region.

Prices for heating oil and diesel, which are the same fuel, were pushed up last year by the post-pandemic economic surge. They continued to soar this year in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when European buyers bid up any oil, gas, and fuel supplies that can serve as alternatives to Russian energy. U.S importers of heating oil and diesel, particularly Northeastern dealers who are more dependent upon imported refined products, were forced to compete with hungry European buyers, said Woosnam.


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