Much of the U.S. could be spending more to stay warm this winter

| 22 Feb 2012 | 02:16

    State College, Pa. — reports though this year’s winter is not expected to be as harsh as the “snowmageddon” that was experienced last year, much of the country may be spending more to stay warm. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is cautioning people that home heating costs this season will be on the rise. In an Oct. 13 press release, EIA Administrator Richard Newell said, “EIA expects household bills for space-heating fuels will be about three percent higher than a year ago.” According to the statement, an average household increase for staying warm October through March would be about $24. However, for some homes in certain regions and using a particular kind of heating element, winter expenditures could jump more than $250. However, Expert Senior Meteorologist Joe Bastardi said, “If energy costs are higher this year, it’s not because of weather.” Bastardi said, “The weather aspect is not as bullish as it was last year.” According to Bastardi, EIA’s NOAA forecast last year had only a small sliver of cold for the Northeast, while accurately forecast the cold and snowy conditions. Using Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and New York City as reference points, Bastardi noted that last year’s weather for December through February had temperatures an average of 2.5 degrees below normal and produced two-and-a-half times their average snowfall. By comparison, Bastardi is predicting those same cities will be 1.5 degrees above normal this winter and receive only about 75 percent of their average snowfall. More snow is likely in the northern areas. Bastardi said, “From much of Texas to the mid-Atlantic for November through March, temperatures will average out.” According to Bastardi, population-weighted regions will not be as cold, with the coldest weather coming in the front part of the winter season, before January. Bastardi said Feb. 2011 will be a near opposite to Feb. 2010 that saw some of the biggest storms of a record-breaking season. While fuel prices are reportedly higher overall, the largest increases will be in residences that use heating oil or propane. The EIA press release indicates that homes using heating oil could spend an average of 12 percent (or $220) more this year. The Northeast is responsible for 80 percent of the United States’ heating oil use. The EIA is predicting that the average household in the Northeast will have their expenditures jump “as a result of a 5 percent increase in consumption and 8 percent higher regional prices.” EIA program contact Tancred Lidderdale said, “The change households may see this winter compared to last will depend significantly on where they live.” According to Lidderdale, the EIA is expecting states in the South to experience warmer temperatures than they had last year, which is in line with’s winter forecast. AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi forecast a wintry battle zone this year for much of the Atlantic Seaboard into the Midwest. According to Bastardi, the worst of the winter weather will be found in the North Central part of the country.