Higher Winter Heating Fuel Costs Expected This Year

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
October 20, 2016

If the outlook is correct, expect to pay more this winter for natural gas, heating oil, electricity and propane between now and the end of March.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, higher expected heating demand and higher fuel prices will cause the average household to spend 38% more for heating oil, 26% more for propane, 22% more for natural gas and 5% more for electricity.

There are steps that can be taken to reduce heating costs. K-State Research and Extension specialist in residential energy, Bruce Snead, says windows are a major source of heat loss.

“Depends on your home and how many windows you have and their orientation and how old they are, how many layers of glass and how tight they are,” said Snead. “All those things plug into what your windows cost you for heating and cooling purposes.

“And, even if you have leaky, old windows with no storms or maybe poor storms,” he added.  “You can always add an interior layer of plastic film.”

Snead also suggests caulking around doors and windows, using foam insulators to stop air drafts from electrical outlets on exterior walls, and installing thermostats that can be programmed to reduce energy use at night when you’re sleeping or when you’re away during the day.

“Each house is unique,” said Snead.  “But generally, when you’re trying to compare apples to apples, for every degree you drop the permanent setting of your thermostat it might save as much as 3% on your heating and cooling costs. It’s just a matter of programming the thermostat so that the house is brought to comfort levels in advance or when you’re expected to arrive.”

This is also a good time to make sure your furnace will be ready when it’s needed.

“If you have not had your furnace serviced in say two or three years,” Snead said, “It would be worth having the service technician come in and do a standard evaluation to be sure that everything is still operating properly, venting properly, and you’re getting the most out of the fuel that’s being consumed by that furnace to provide comfort in your home.”

Even if your furnace doesn’t need servicing, Snead recommends checking the filter to see if it needs to be cleaned or replaced…something that should be done on a regular basis.