Home heating costs expected to keep soaring for years: Experts

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FILE – Power transmission lines deliver electricity to rural Orange County on Aug. 14, 2018, near Hillsborough, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

(NewsNation) — Home heating costs are soaring this winter — and energy experts think that trend won’t end for years.

This comes as officials predict this will be a colder winter. That has already been seen in the winter storm over the holidays. And the war in Ukraine is having a big impact on the price of natural gas as well.

Parts of Europe rely on natural gas from the United States instead of Russia, so it’s a tight market. According to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA), one in six families are already behind on utility bills and owe a total of more than $16 billion.

From 2021 to 2022, there was a 17.2% increase in energy prices, going from $1,031 to $1,208 per heating season. This year, heating costs are expected to go up by another 17% — which on average would cost a home more than $1,200 for the period stretching from October to March.

Some places could see higher costs than others — according to the New York Times, “the average retail electricity costs in the 35 states that have partly or entirely broken apart the processes of generation, transmission and retail distribution of energy into separate businesses have risen faster than rates in the 15 states that have not deregulated, including Florida and Oregon.” That was the case for much of the last two decades or so, The Times reported. 

Mark Wolfe, the executive director of NEADA, said the cost of heating has gone up by 35% over the last two years — and he doesn’t see relief any time soon.

“Winter really hasn’t started — it’s the first month of high bills and the outlook of the next month is of great concern because we are having a colder winter than expected,” Wolfe said. “It’s tough to plan ahead.”

And it’s not just households feeling the pinch. At the University of Kansas, some students have taken up extra jobs, or have had to rely on their parents to pay for electricity for their off-campus apartments, The Daily Kansan student newspaper reported.

The federal government allocated more than $6 billion this year for families who will need help paying for their heat through a program called the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP. Any local county office can help you apply.

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