By - Jim Vess

Distillate oil and propane prices begin winter heating season at lower prices than last year

Energize Weekly, November 27, 2019

Prices for home-heating oil and propane are starting this winter heating season at lower prices than a year ago, with heating oil 10 percent cheaper and propane down 22 percent, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The winter heating season runs from October 1 to March 31, and home-heating oil prices averaged $2.89 a gallon on Oct. 28. Propane price averaged $2.14 a gallon.

The EIA’s Heating Oil and Propane Update is part of a collaborative effort between the agency and several state energy offices that collect data on heating oil and propane prices.

Distillate heating oil is the primary home-heating fuel for 4.6 percent of U.S. homes, with a heavy concentration in the Northeast, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Maine, more than 50 percent of homes depend upon heating oil. In the rest of New England – Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut – 25 percent to 50 percent of residences use heating oil. Between 25 percent and 50 percent of Alaskan homes also use heating oil.

Distillate oil heats 10 percent to 25 percent of the homes in New York state and Pennsylvania. In more than half the country – 26 states – heating oil makes up less than 1 percent of winter heating fuel.

Propane is the main heating fuel for 4.8 percent of U.S. homes, primarily in the Midwest. For six upper Midwest and Plains states – Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Iowa and Wisconsin – propane heats 10 percent to 25 percent of homes. It also heats 10 percent to 25 percent of the homes in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

The residential home-heating fuel data – for both propane and heating oil – are collected for a total of 21 states. Propane prices are collected for an additional 18 states. Wholesale prices for heating oil are gathered for 25 states and wholesale propane prices for 23 states.

“Stakeholders and analysts use these state-level heating oil and propane prices and region-level inventories to monitor markets as well as to facilitate emergency response to fuel supply shortages during winter months,” the EIA said.

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