Principal contributor: Marcela Bradbury
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Heating Oil and Propane Update (HOPU), prices during the first two weeks of the current winter heating season (October 1 through March 31) were 28% lower for heating oil than during the 2019–2020 winter. This decrease is the largest price decrease between the start of two seasons since October 2015. The decrease in prices can be attributed to crude oil prices that are lower than last year and distillate inventories that are currently higher than the previous five-year (2015–2019) average.
Distillate heating oil is the primary home heating fuel in 4.4% of U.S. homes and tends to be more common in the Northeast, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. More than half of the homes in Maine and at least 30% of the homes in New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Alaska use heating oil as their primary heating fuel.
In its Winter Fuels Outlook, EIA expects households that use heating oil as their primary heating source to spend about 10% less than last winter on space heating. Heating oil prices tend to be highest in the Central Atlantic region (Petroleum Administration for Defense District, or PADD, 1B) and lowest in the Midwest region (PADD 2). Regional averages may not reflect differences across states. Of the states EIA surveys in HOPU, residential heating oil prices ranged from $1.64 per gallon (gal) in Nebraska to $2.37/gal in Minnesota, as of October 19.
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.
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.