The recent cold weather had Iowans turning their furnaces back on — but the bite on the wallet for heating bills wasn’t as bad as it has been. Iowa Department of Natural Resources energy analyst Jennifer Moehlman tracks heating fuel prices in a monthly survey. She says heating oil dropped 62-cents and natural gas dropped four dollars, but she says natural gas did start to come back up since the survey on November 14th.
Moehlman says the recent drop doesn’t change the long-term prediction on heating costs. She says for propane you can expect to spend about 21-percent more than last year, for heating oil 27-percent more, and for natural gas, anywhere from 30 to 50-percent depending on the weather.
Moehlman says the cost of heating fuel is much like gasoline — driven by demand. She says, “If you have higher demand, you have high prices. And it really gets you coming and going, because colder weather makes high prices, and it also creates higher consumption.” She says gasoline and heating oil come from the same base product, but one doesn’t have a major impact on the price of the other.
She says it’s connected a little bit, but not very much. She says the refinery can be tweaked a little to make more of one or the other, but you still always create both. Moehlman says you can find some advice on saving energy at:www.EnergySavingTips.gov.