Winter heating bill forecast: Will you pay more or less this year?

Man adjusts smart thermostat

The past few years, it seemed week after week, everything went up in price.

But that is changing.

The latest Consumer Price Index shows inflation down to a 3.1% annual rate, which is great news after a year when inflation was running as high as 9% at one point.

Gasoline prices have been falling the past three months, and there’s something else that should cost you less: your winter heating bill.

Chris and Jen Arnette of West Chester, Ohio — like so many homeowners last winter — were stunned by January and February’s heating bill.

In their case, their heating bill peaked at $874 in the month February.

“We were jumping from $350, to $500, to $600, and $800,” Chris Arnette told us at the time.

Bills like that have a lot of people worried about this year’s bills. But luckily, that’s changed for this winter.

MORE: How to save money on your heating bill this winter

Natural Gas Prices Have Been Falling

Duke Energy spokesperson Sally Thelen says families who heat with natural gas should see some welcome relief this winter.

“What we’re seeing in a good way is a slight trending downward in pricing,” Thelen said.

She cited the latest figures that show:

  • Natural gas prices have fallen by 30% in the past year.
  • Heating oil is down 20%.
  • Electric rates, however, are up 5% since last year.

If you use a third party energy supplier, however, Thelen says you need to watch for rate hikes when your annual contract expires, even if natural gas rates have actually fallen. She says Duke’s customer service agents get complaints every week about that happening.

“In most cases we find they were with a third party energy supplier,” she said. “They were with a contract that ended, and things kind of changed.”

So if you have a third party energy company, watch for letters in the mail.

Do not ignore them, or you may be surprised with a rate hike the following month.

Your rates and heating bill could still go up, even though most homeowner like the Arnettes should see a little relief this winter.

That way, you don’t waste your money.

By John Matarese, WCPO

About the Author

John Matarese

John's goal is to help as many TV viewers as possible save money, avoid bad deals, know a rip-off when one comes their way, and be educated consumers. His informative weekly consumer segment "Don't Waste Your Money" now airs on 45 TV stations from San Diego to Tampa to Houston and Cincinnati. More.

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