Principal contributor: Marcela Bradbury
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Heating Oil and Propane Update (HOPU), prices at the start of the 2019–2020 winter heating season (October 1 through March 31) were 10% lower for heating oil and 22% lower for propane than at the start of the previous winter. HOPU is published as part of the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP), a joint effort between EIA and several state energy offices to collect state-level residential heating oil and propane price data from October through March in states where heating oil and propane use is common.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey, distillate heating oil is the primary home heating fuel in 4.6% of U.S. homes and tends to be more common in the Northeast. Propane is the primary heating fuel in 4.8% of U.S. homes. Propane as a primary heating fuel tends to be more common in the Midwest.
SHOPP collects residential heating oil and propane prices for 21 states. In 18 additional states, only propane prices are collected; in the District of Columbia, only heating oil prices are collected. SHOPP also provides wholesale heating oil prices for 25 states and 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. To improve the accuracy of the state-level prices, EIA selected two new samples for residential heating oil and propane prices and implemented a new sampling methodology in October 2019. EIA is also now publishing standard errors for SHOPP price estimates, which allow data users to compute a confidence interval around the corresponding average price estimate.