Jay, Maine, USA ( Associated Press) — Across the United States, many families are anxiously awaiting winter as fuel prices rise and stocks dwindle.
The Department of Energy is projecting steep price increases for home heating compared to last winter, and some fear welfare programs for heating will be insufficient to make up the difference for disadvantaged families. The situation is even bleaker in Europe, where Russia’s restriction of natural gas has pushed up prices and caused painful shortages.
In Maine, Aaron Raymo began stocking up on heating oil in 5-gallon increments at a time during the summer as prices rose. He filled a container with heating oil when he could afford it, usually on paydays, and used a heating assistance program to fill his 275-gallon oil tank in anticipation of cooler temperatures.
Her family was trying to avoid being forced to make a difficult decision: choosing between food or heating their home.
“It’s difficult,” he said. “What are you going to choose for food, or how much fuel are you going to choose to keep warm?”
Several factors are converging to create a very difficult situation: global energy consumption has recovered since the start of the pandemic, but supply barely held up and then fell due to the war in Ukraine.
The National Energy Assistance Directors Association forecast that hydrocarbon costs this winter will be the highest in more than a decade.
The Department of Energy projects that heating bills will rise 28% this winter for those who rely on natural gas, used by nearly half of American homes for heating. Heating oil is projected to cost 27% more and electricity 10% more, the department reported.
Added to this are inflation rates that accelerated last month, with consumer prices growing 6.6%, the fastest pace in four decades.
The pain will be especially acute in New England, which relies heavily on heating oil to keep homes warm. It is projected to cost more than $2,300 to heat a typical home with heating oil this winter, the Energy Department said.
David Sharp is on Twitter as: @David_Sharp_AP