Get ready to pay sharply higher bills for heating this winter, along with seemingly everything else.
With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the US government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter.
Nearly half the homes in the US use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, 30% more than a year ago.
Those in the midwest could get particularly pinched, with bills up an estimated 49%, and this could be the most expensive winter for natural gas heated homes since 2008-2009.
The second-most used heating source for homes is electricity, making up 41% of the country, and those households could see a more modest 6% increase to $1,268.
Homes using heating oil, which make up 4% of the country, could see a 43% increase – more than $500 – to $1,734.
The sharpest increases are likely for homes that use propane, which account for 5% of US households.
This winter is forecast to be slightly colder across the country than last year.
The forecast from the US Energy Information Administration is the latest reminder of the higher inflation ripping across the global economy.
Earlier Wednesday, the government released a separate report showing that prices were 5.4% higher for US consumers in September than a year ago.
That matches the hottest inflation rate since 2008, as a reawakening economy and snarled supply chains push up prices for everything from cars to groceries.
The biggest reason for this winter’s higher heating bills is the recent surge in prices for energy commodities after they dropped to multi-year lows in 2020. Demand has simply grown faster than production as the economy roars back to life following shutdowns caused by the coronavirus.
US natural gas has climbed to its highest price since 2014 and is up roughly 90% over the last year. The wholesale price of heating oil has more than doubled in the last 12 months.
Another reason for the rise is how global the market for fuels has become.