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The Rising Cost of Home Heating Oil

Heating_oil_prices.gif The price of home heating oil has been in the news lately. Record prices have forced low- and fixed-income individuals and the elderly to choose between staying warm and other essentials. The majority of U.S. households that rely on oil heat are located in the Northeast, making residents in that region particularly vulnerable.

Congress recently approved a funding boost to the federal government's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Officials in Maine, however, still worry a crisis will develop. They estimate that an average of $579 is distributed per fuel aid benefit, which would last a family only one month given projected heating oil costs. A few years ago, that same benefit might have carried a family in Maine through half the heating season.

The graph at right shows home heating oil prices in cents per gallon (including taxes) between 1995 and 2008. In 1998, the national average was $0.90 a gallon. The U.S. Dept. of Energy has projected that the national average will rise to $3.11 a gallon in 2008.

For more statistics on energy production, consumption, and retail prices, check out The World Almanac 2008 chapter on Energy, which begins on page 104.

Heating Oil and Propane Update (Energy Information Administration, U.S. Dept. of Energy)
Residential Heating Oil Prices: What Consumers Should Know (EIA)
Short-Term Energy Outlook (EIA)
"Federal Home Heating Aid Gets Boost," (The Associated Press)

Table source: U.S. Regional Heating Oil Prices and Inventories, EIA, U.S. Dept. of Energy


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