WASHINGTON - Because of higher oil prices, the latest projections for this winter's household heating costs indicate greater increases for heating oil and propane users, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The EIA says that households using heating oil are now expected to see heating bills rise about 37 percent above last winter, compared to the previous projection of a 28-percent increase. Propane-heated households can expect to see increased expenditures of about 26 percent this winter, compared with a 22-percent increase projected last month. Expected increases in expenditures for natural gas-heated households remain the same as last month at about 15 percent.

The increases are mainly due to higher energy costs this year. According to the EIA report, U.S. spot prices for crude oil ranged from under $49 per barrel to more than $56 per barrel in late October and early November, largely because of production losses in the Gulf of Mexico caused by Hurricane Ivan. Those production losses also caused natural gas prices to increase. The EIA also noted additional increases in world demand for oil, and has boosted its projected growth in demand for 2004 to 3.5 percent above 2003 levels. Last month's report had projected a growth in demand of 3.3 percent.

Publication date: 11/22/2004