(NEXSTAR) – Inflation may be easing, but households are bracing for at least one monthly bill to go up next month. The Energy Information Administration estimates the average natural gas heating bill will go up 28% this winter when compared to last winter.
About half of homes nationally rely on natural gas for heating, according to U.S. Census data. While the U.S. doesn’t rely heavily on natural gas imports, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has still been affecting prices here at home because American natural gas producers have been exporting so much of their production to Europe, reports NPR.
“If the price they can get in Europe is a lot more than what they can sell their natural gas for in the U.S., then some of that is going to be exported to Europe, and that is going to raise the price of things in the United States,” Ellen Wald, oil and gas expert with the Atlantic Council, told NPR.
MoneyGeek, a personal finance website, analyzed Energy Information Administration (EIA) data to determine where heating bills are expected to rise the most.
Believe it or not, the state with the highest heating bill isn’t Alaska. The frigid, snowy state comes it at No. 2, but Oklahoma takes the top spot with an average projected natural gas bill of $301 per month.
Despite being a big producer of natural gas, Oklahoma has still ended up in a tight position. An energy crisis last year forced them to buy extra fuel at 600 times the normal price, reported Oklahoma Watch. This year, the EIA expects natural gas consumption in the state to be even higher. “While we’re not sure if this will become a long-term pattern, that, plus a projected 15% increase in price this winter is sort of a perfect storm for Oklahoma, leading them to have the highest monthly bill,” a MoneyGeek analyst told Nexstar.
Midwestern states may not have the biggest bills overall, but they are seeing the biggest increases, according to MoneyGeek’s analysis. States in the region are expected to see their natural gas bills up about 33% this year.
Generally, states that rely more on natural gas as a heating source are expected to see the biggest spikes.
See the 20 states predicted to have the highest bills, and their households’ monthly average natural gas cost, below:
|Rank||State||Monthly gas bill (2022-23)||Increase from last year|
The state with the lowest projected natural gas bill this winter is no surprise: Hawaiians’ average natural monthly bill will be around $12. Following Hawaii is Maine, then Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona and Vermont – each with a bill under $50.
While Arizona and Hawaii aren’t surprising to find at the bottom of the list, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont aren’t exactly tropical, warm environments. How are the gas bills so low? Residents in those states rely far less on natural gas to heat their homes, according to the Census. All three use fuel oil as the leading source of heat energy, according to the EIA, but they also rely on wood burning, propane and some electricity.
(See where every state ranks in the full dataset.)
To save on your heating bill, the Department of Energy suggests turning down your thermostat to as low as you’re comfortable, keeping curtains open when the sun is out, and upgrading to efficient home appliances.
“You pay for what you use, and anywhere that you can cut your usage down, that will save you the money ultimately,” said Priscilla Ress, Spokesperson for Eversource.
Western Massachusetts homeowners have, for months now, been bracing for a costly winter. Home heating bills are higher this year due to growing energy source costs. Although prices are increasing, there are ways to save. One of the top ways to cut costs, proper insulation.
Bob Parent from Rocky’s Ace Hardware in Agawam said, “When it’s cold out, you want to make sure that your windows are sealed. maybe add an extra sealing on your windows and sunshine comes in through windows, so open them during the daytime close them at dusk.”
One of Eversource’s many income-based energy-assistance programs is budget billing. Ress told 22News, “Budget billing says you will know what you’re going to pay every month, so the people who are on a budget don’t get that surprise. They know what to expect.”
Looking into these programs while weatherizing your home is the best way to lessen the financial toll of energy costs. Eversource also offers home energy assessments, so you’ll know what actions you must take to ensure your house is as energy-efficient as it can be this winter.