EIA: Colder, More Expensive Winter

Brace yourselves for a colder winter and higher costs to keep warm.

EIA says to expect a winter that’s colder than last, meaning it’ll cost more to stay warm. (Photo By: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

EIA says to expect a winter that’s colder than last, meaning it’ll cost more to stay warm. (Photo By: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Energy Information Administration's Winter Fuels Outlook sees Americans paying more in heating costs this season over last. Electricity is forecast to have the lowest increase at 8 percent. The figure climbs to 12 percent for natural gas, 17 percent for home heating oil, and 18 percent for propane.

"Most of the increase reflects expected colder weather rather than higher energy costs," EIA added. It said temperatures nationally are predicted to be an average 13 percent colder this winter, while noting that last winter was "significantly warmer than normal."

For the 40 percent of American households using electric heat, EIA forecasts an average monthly bill increase of $74. It cites both higher electricity prices and overall increased consumption.

There could be a significant impact in the South, where two-thirds of homes use electric heat. EIA said the South could see a winter that's 27 percent colder than last.

EIA also offers a scenario in which it's 10 percent colder than forecast. That would increase costs for electrically heated homes by 12 percent, or $108.

"Although colder-than-expected weather would tend to increase generation fuel costs, residential electricity prices would not rise immediately. Instead, the effect of colder temperatures would pass through to retail electricity rates over the succeeding months of 2018," the report added.

The winter outlook was released Oct. 11 in conjunction with EIA's monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook, which had some encouraging news for drivers.

After Hurricane Harvey pushed a gallon of regular to a national average two-year high of $2.69 on Sept. 11, EIA sees an average price of $2.49 this month and $2.33 come December.

On the electricity front, EIA puts the share of America's total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas at about 31 percent this year, down from 34 percent in 2016. It cites "higher natural gas prices and increased electricity generation from renewables and coal."

"In 2018, natural gas's generation share is expected to rise to 32 percent," the report added.

Coal's forecast generation share is expected to rise from 30 percent last year to 31 percent in 2017 and staying level in 2018.