Meteorologists predict that a “cooler than normal” winter is ahead, and that has many Americans concerned about heating costs.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), states stretching from Michigan to Oregon will likely experience below-average temperatures from now until spring thanks to La Niña and a polar vortex. Major cities such as Milwaukee and Portland will feel the sting, causing tens of thousands of residents to turn up their thermostats. And this year poses more of an issue with supply and demand than usual.
Thanks to the ongoing war in Ukraine, the entire world is dealing with natural gas shortages. So, many residents fear that their heating bills will reflect the situation. And with inflation already taking a toll, thousands may not be able to afford the cost.
“It takes energy to heat your house,” said Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University. “So, the colder it is, the more energy we need for heating. And that’s bad news in a world where energy is constrained by things like the war in Ukraine.”
Europe is already scrambling to find alternative gas sources because Moscow has capped its flow to countries within the EU. And the US will likely send some of its reserves overseas to help, which means there will be far less to go around.
“Putin has shut off Russian gas for Europe but they still need gas,” Dessler continued. “So they’re going buy US gas. That’s going to drive up the price for US consumers. So it’s definitely bad news for US consumers.”
Officials Warn that Winter Heating Costs Will Be the Highest in a Decade
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association warns that energy costs this winter will be more expensive than they’ve been in over a decade. Projections from the Energy Department show that heating bills for people who use natural gas will jump by 28%. Electricity costs will likely raise by 10% as well.
To quell the problem, some state officials are pushing for energy moratoriums or shut-offs. And Congress has added $1 billion in heating assistance.
However, many are hoping that extreme measures won’t be needed. Instead, local governments are asking residents to willingly conserve their resources by keeping their homes cooler than usual. That way, people in colder climates can share heating oil without feeling as much of a financial burden.
“Since the price will go up, and it will price people out, people will hopefully turn their thermostats down, as opposed to there being shortages,” he continued.