Home heating prices are skyrocketing yet again this winter, up 18% nationwide on top of last year’s 17% spike, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA).
Charmaine Johnson works in the call center at Philadelphia’s Heater Hotline, part of a non-profit that assists low-income families with their heating systems and bills. Johnson, 63, can relate to the concerns she’s hearing all day. She, too, is struggling to afford her heating bills.
With help from her son, Johnson just paid more than $1,000 to fill part of her oil tank, which she hopes will last her most of the winter.
Johnson says she doesn’t qualify for government assistance with her heating bills. As inflation also pushes up her food budget and other expenses, she is bundling up and keeping the heat turned down, hoping to stretch that oil for as long as possible.
“It’s miserable,” she said. “It’s like living in an igloo.”
Several factors are driving hikes in home heating prices, including the war in Ukraine, OPEC+ cuts, a surge in energy exports, lower energy inventories, and a high demand for natural gas in the US electric power sector, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
EIA projects heating a home with natural gas will cost an extra 25% this winter, and heating with electric will run 11% higher. The steepest hike will be on heating oil, which is expected to be 45% more expensive than last winter, squeezing roughly 5 million households, mostly in the Northeast.