February 16, 2011 / 10:36 PM / in 7 years

US Northeast households to pay record heatoil costs

 * Heating-oil bills about $500 more than last winter-govt
 * High crude price, cold weather push up costs
 By Tom Doggett
 WASHINGTON, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Heating-oil costs for
households in the U.S. Northeast this winter will likely be the
highest on record, thanks to expensive crude oil, the
government's energy-forecasting agency said on Wednesday.
 The average homeowner in the Northeast, the biggest U.S.
heating-oil market, will spend a record $2,431 for the fuel,
the Energy Information Administration said.
 That is about $200 more than the Energy Department's
analytical arm predicted in October, when it released its
winter heating fuel forecast, and up almost $500 from last
 The EIA forecast has the winter heating season running from
October through March.
 The warning comes as the Obama administration is seeking to
halve funding for a government program that helps poor families
and the elderly pay their heating bills.
 Northeast temperatures in December were 11 percent colder
than normal and 8 percent colder in January.
 "However, rising oil prices, not colder weather, have been
the primary cause of the increase in forecasts of average
winter season heating expenditures for households heating with
oil," the EIA said.
 The price of U.S. crude oil has surged from $78 a barrel
last October to $90 this month.
 The average retail price for residential heating oil
reached $3.59 a gallon this week, up 73 cents from a year
earlier, the EIA said.
 Gasoline has topped $3 a gallon every week so far this
year, reaching a February record of $3.14 this week, up 53
cents from a year earlier.
 (For a factbox on heating-oil prices, click [ID:nN16190436])
 (Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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