The Short Term Energy Outlook recently published by the Energy Information Administration projects that average household expenditures for all space-heating fuels are projected to be $1,137 this winter, a 15 percent increase over the estimated $986 spent last winter. The projected increase in expenditures is primarily due to higher energy prices, although colder weather will also contribute to higher fuel use in many areas. Households relying on heating oil and natural gas will experience the largest increases.
The continuing upward trend in heating prices signifies the need for households to take steps to improve the efficiency of their homes. Properly sealed windows and high-efficiency insulation, for example, can reduce energy consumption and result in net savings in the short-term. For those unable to afford the upfront costs of design improvements, federal and state weatherization programs can provide energy saving services. Biobased home heating systems such as wood pellet stoves may be another option to stabilize spending in some areas. In addition, simple actions such as lowering the thermostat when out of the house will reduce heating bills.