WASHINGTON - Despite early predictions of higher heating bills, warmer than normal weather has kept natural gas prices from escalating so far this heating season.

Heating degree-days were approximately 11 percent below normal in October, according to the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Energy Information Agency (EIA), and the first week in November brought unseasonably warm weather to the Midwest and Northeast. The warmer temperatures have kept demand for natural gas low and supplies higher than average.

If warmer than average temperatures prevail through the early winter months, EIA predicts prices for natural gas may fall, but the agency still expects prices to be higher than a year ago for the October-December period. Using weather predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, EIA predicts heating costs for natural gas-heated homes will rise 6 percent.

Publication date: 12/01/2003