WASHINGTON - As winter prepares to take hold across the United States, the U.S. Census Bureau has released new data showing that more than half of the nation's homes use gas as their heating fuel.

The American Community Survey showed that in 2003 nearly 62 million homes (57 percent) used utility, bottle, tank, or LP gas as their heating fuel. The second most popular home heating source was electricity, used in 33.9 million homes (31.3 percent).

Among other fuel sources, fuel oil and kerosene were used by about 8.6 percent of households nationwide, mostly in northern states.

"Annual data from the American Community Survey should improve how energy officials and local utility companies plan for seasonal peaks in fuel consumption," stated Census Bureau director Louis Kincannon. "Utility companies will be able to use these and other Census Bureau data to forecast the need for additional power facilities and utility networks."

According to the survey, states with some of the highest percentages of households using gas to heat their homes were Utah (88.5 percent), Michigan (86.9 percent), Illinois (86.7 percent), Iowa (82.3 percent), and Colorado (80.2 percent).

Publication date: 12/13/2004