WASHINGTON - High oil prices are not only driving up the price for gasoline, but will also cause more pain for those using fuel oil and propane for heating this winter, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The daily spot price for crude oil peaked at $99.16 per barrel in late November, and although it has fallen since then, the EIA expects oil prices to remain “high and volatile” through 2008. As a result, the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook projects both gasoline and diesel fuel prices to average “well over $3 per gallon” in 2008, with gasoline prices peaking at $3.40 per gallon in the spring.

But the hardship will be greatest for those using heating oil this winter, as they’re expected to shell out a total of $1,955 for heating, a 33 percent increase over last year’s expenditures. Households heated with propane are expected to pay $1,629 for heating, on average, a 20.7 percent increase over last year. And those living in the Northeast and using these fuels will suffer the most, with heating oil bills averaging $2,012 for the winter and propane heating bills averaging $2,301. On the bright side, households heating with natural gas will spend only 6.5 percent more on average, for a total of $865, while people with all-electric homes will pay 1.9 percent more, for a total of $838. The EIA includes the full heating season in its projections, from Oct. 1 through March 31.

Publication date:12/17/2007