The latest state survey confirms what you’ve seen at the pump: gas prices are on the decline. State fuel market analyst Jennifer Moehlmann says Iowans are paying less than they did a month ago for all kinds of fuel, as the survey shows a decline in the prices of gasoline, diesel, heating oil and propane. Moehlmann says in October, there’s generally a pre-winter price spike for heating fuels like propane and heating oil. Prices for heating fuels drop a bit in November and December and rise again when the cold weather hits, so Moehlmann says the price decline isn’t that much of a surprise. The decline in the average price of heating fuels isn’t dramatically changing Moehlmann’s prediction of how much it’ll cost the average Iowan to heat their home this winter. Moehlmann earlier predicted heating oil prices for the winter would be 38 percent higher. She now predicts they’ll be about 36 percent higher, which isn’t much of a difference. As for propane prices, she says most dealers bought their supplies earlier when prices were higher so the recent decline won’t make much of a dent in the prices most Iowa consumers pay. About 70 percent of Iowa’s natural gas supply was purchased earlier this year, so the slight increase in natural gas prices this month should not have much of an impact on Iowans, according to Moehlmann. She predicts Iowans who heat their homes with natural gas will have to pay about 29 percent more this winter than last. About 67 percent of Iowans heat their homes with natural gas. Turning to gasoline prices, on December 15th, the average price in Iowa for a gallon of self-serve unleaded was $1.71.That was 16 cents lower than mid-November, but 29 cents per gallon higher than the price a year ago. Moehlmann says gasoline prices usually bottom out in December and January, but she says with a volatile crude oil situation, it’s hard to predict what gasoline prices will be a month from now. Diesel fuel hit an all-time high this fall. Diesel’s selling for an average of $1.95 per gallon, about 16 cents down from a month ago. But it’s significantly higher than a year ago. At this time last year, diesel was selling for about $1.50 a gallon. Moehlmann says diesel prices are even harder to predict than gasoline, and she says if there’s an extended period of cold weather, diesel fuel prices will probably rise even higher because they’re closely tied to the price of heating oil and crude oil.
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