A “once in a generation” winter storm sweeping the country will force Americans to crank up the heat at a time when it’s becoming increasingly costly to do so.
Even before the historic system came into being, experts warned home heating costs would jump to their highest level in more than a decade this winter.
The average cost of heating a home is expected to increase 17.2% from last winter to $1,208, according to a November report by the Association of State Energy Assistance Executives.
Home heating costs are expected to be 35.7% higher this winter than in the 2020-2021 winter, the report said.
The price of natural gas, America’s most popular way to heat homes, has skyrocketed, as have electricity prices.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicted last month that households that rely on natural gas for heating this winter will pay an average of 25 percent more. Those who use heating oil are expected to spend 45 percent more than they did last winter, while electricity will increase by 11 percent and propane will increase by 1 percent.
But if winters are colder than expected, heating bills will only get more expensive.
For example, the Energy Information Administration warns that if temperatures are 10% cooler than forecast, the average household that heats with natural gas will spend 37% more than they did last winter. Heating oil costs will soar 52%.
Consumers are feeling the price shock even before winter begins. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, utility natural gas prices rose 15.5% year-over-year in November. Electricity prices rose by 14%.
An additional burden for those at a financial advantage: The consequences are especially severe for those who can at least afford the volatility.
“Home heating costs are becoming increasingly unaffordable for millions of low-income households,” the Association of State Energy Assistance Directors said in its November report.
As of August, about one in six U.S. households were behind on their utility bills, equivalent to about 20 million households, according to the association.