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U.S. households will pay more to heat their homes this winter, officials say

Flared natural gas is burned off at Apache Corporations operations at the Deadwood natural gas plant in the Permian Basin on February 5, 2015 in Garden City, Texas.
Flared natural gas is burned off at Apache Corporations operations at the Deadwood natural gas plant in the Permian Basin on February 5, 2015 in Garden City, Texas.

U.S. households can expect to spend more money to heat their homes this winter compared with last year, federal officials announced.

A report released Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration predicts that home heating costs will go up because fuel prices are rising and fuel demand has increased over the previous winter.

Many energy prices dropped considerably last winter due to a sharp drop in demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the agency said prices have since rebounded, in part because of the economic recovery, and in some cases have reached multiyear highs.

How much are energy prices going up?

All residential consumers should expect to pay more for heat, but officials say the type of fuel you use will determine how much extra you'll have to shell out.

Nearly half of U.S. households heat their homes with natural gas, and they will pay 30% more on average this winter, while homes warmed with electricity will pay 6% more, according to the Energy Information Administration's "Winter Fuels Outlook." It will cost $746 on average to heat homes with natural gas this winter, while those who use electric heat can bank on spending around $1,268 on their electricity bills this season, according to the report.

Far fewer households keep their homes warm with heating oil or propane, but their costs are expected to jump even higher. Heating oil users will pay 43% more on average than they did last winter, while propane users will pay 54% more.

The Energy Information Administration said those estimates were based on weather predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is forecasting a colder winter. But the report notes that even if this winter is a bit warmer than expected, all residential consumers using any of those four fuels will still pay more for heat.

Energy producers blame the Biden administration

In a statement, Anne Bradbury, CEO of the American Exploration & Production Council, blasted the Biden administration for pursuing policies that she said made it harder for U.S. producers to supply oil and natural gas.

"To ensure we have a stable and affordable supply of energy here in the United States, the Biden Administration should support the domestic production of oil and natural gas, ensure the continued production on federal land, work with the industry on sensible and smart methane regulations, and stop calling for higher taxes on the American oil and gas industry," Bradbury said.

But the Energy Information Administration said the main reason for the spike in energy prices is that fuel demand has shot up from recent lows faster than producers have increased supply.

The rise in energy prices is just the latest example of how inflation has been steadily growing as the global economy resets after the first year and a half of the pandemic. On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices rose 5.4% over the last 12 months, matching the highest level of inflation seen in the U.S. in more than a decade.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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