Heating fuels in the state have been bucking the normal winter trends by dropping in price. Iowa Department of Natural Resources analyst Tommi Makila says we are at lower levels for all heating fuel prices, which he says is “somewhat unusual.”
Natural gas, the fuel used by a majority of Iowans for heating, was down by $2.50 per B-T-U in mid January compared to last year. Heating oil was down $1.08 per gallon, while propane was down 22-cents. Makila says the fuel report this time of year is usually about the increases, not the drops.
He says the prices tend to go up when it gets cold, especially when we have a cold snap like we recently had, but so far he says they haven’t seen any significant increases. Makila says the key factor behind the drop in the cost of heating fuels is the same as the one that’s caused gasoline prices to drop.
Makila says it’s the slower economy and a decrease in demand. He says many industrial users have cut back and that’s decreased the demand for natural gas. The U.S. census estimates that 67% of Iowans use natural gas to heat their homes, 15% use electricity, 14% propane, 1.5% wood, and 1.4% fuel oil.