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RISMEDIA, October 30, 2010—(MCT)—U.S. households will spend 2.5% more on heating fuels this winter than last year, with fuel prices rising “moderately,” even as slightly milder weather is expected, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said recently. Average household spending for space-heating fuels from Oct. 1 to March 31 is expected to total $986, up $24 from last year.

Households heating primarily with natural gas are expected to spend an average of $27 more this winter, up 4%. The gain in spending represents a 6% increase in prices, with a decline of 2% in consumption. Natural gas is the primary heating fuel for about half of U.S. households, the agency said.

Meanwhile, households who heat their homes with electricity can expect to spend an average of $18 less, or 2%. The spending decline reflects a 4% dip in consumption, partially offset by 2% growth in prices. Electricity is the second most common heating source and is especially common in the South.

Those consumers primarily using heating oil will spend $220 more, a 12% increase, the agency projects. Those heating with propane are expected to spend an average of $136 more, or 8%.

Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, said overall temperatures are projected to be milder from about Dec. 1 to March 31.

“It’s going to add up more on the mild side, which is good news for consumers,” Margusity said. “There won’t be a big, deep freeze over the country for an extended period of time. We are probably not going to see weeks of brutally cold weather.”

On a regional basis, temperature projections vary widely, EIA noted. The Northeast is projected to be 5% colder than last year, but the South is expected to be 15% warmer.

(c) 2010, MarketWatch.com Inc.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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