WMU News

Homeowners should brace for high heating bills

Nov. 1, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- The law of supply and demand will make this an expensive home heating season.

Just as gasoline prices have skyrocketed, the cost of home heating is expected to rise sharply this winter due to shortages of fuel oil, natural gas and propane and a demand for these fuels that is higher than ever, says Dr. William B. Harrison III, a WMU professor of geosciences.

"Basically, whenever you have a supply that turns out to be less than what the demand is, prices are going to go up," Harrison says. "So I think we're going to continue to be seeing high prices for these energies. The price is going to remain high, not just because the price of crude oil is high, but because the supply is small compared to the demand."

Especially hard hit will be homeowners who heat with fuel oil, including more than 50 percent of people who heat with fuel oil along the East Coast, Harrison says. Supplies of fuel oil are 25 to 30 percent lower than average, and homeowners heating with fuel oil can expect heating costs to go up by 50 percent.

"The main reason for that is because there was such a high demand for gasoline throughout the whole summer that refineries just weren't making much fuel oil," Harrison says.

Supplies for natural gas and propane are better, but are still about 8 to 15 percent lower than average. People heating with natural gas or propane can expect prices to jump by 20 to 25 percent.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 616 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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