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Energy Dept. says to expect higher heating bills

Oct. 9, 2013 at 8:35 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The U.S. public can expect to pay more to heat their homes this winter because of higher prices for natural gas, propane and electricity, officials said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department's analytical arm, said more than 90 percent of the 116 million homes in the country are expected to have higher heating bills than last year.

"EIA projects that average household expenditures for homes heating with natural gas will total $679 this winter, a 13 percent increase over last winter's average but 4 percent below the average of the five previous winters," it said in a winter outlook report published Tuesday.

Natural gas prices are expected to increase more than other forms of energy used for heat, the report said. Heating oil prices are expected to decline by 2 percent.

New England residents may experience higher than average constraints because more people are using natural gas. The EIA said less than 30 percent of the New England population relied on natural gas for electricity in 2001 but that rose to 52 percent in 2012. This, in turn, strained pipeline capacity, a trend that's expected to continue this winter.

A conference in Washington on winter energy demand was postponed to next month because of the partial federal government shutdown.

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