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November 17, 2022

Residential heating oil prices start winter heating season higher than last year

U.S. weekly winter residential heating oil prices
Data source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Heating Oil and Propane Update

U.S. heating oil prices were 65% higher this October than they were in October of last year, according to our Heating Oil and Propane Update (HOPU). The winter heating season runs from October 1 through the end of March. Residential heating oil prices rose to an annual high of $5.90 per gallon (gal) on November 7, 2022, because of tight inventories, low imports, and limited production capacity. Prices fell to $5.79/gal on November 14.

According to our Weekly Petroleum Status Report, as of November 11, Northeast distillate fuel inventories totaled 15.2 million barrels, 44% less than for the same week last year. From January through August 2022, East Coast distillate imports were 38% lower compared with the same period in 2021.

Although East Coast refineries are running at close to full capacity, regional refining capacity has fallen in recent years. In 2019, the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, the East Coast region’s largest refinery, was shut down permanently following a fire.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, heating oil is the primary home heating fuel in 4.1% of U.S. homes. New England has the largest share of homes primarily heated by heating oil. On average, 33% of homes in New England use heating oil as the primary heating fuel.

Heating oil as primary home heating fuel by state
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2021

In our November update of the Winter Fuels Outlook, we expect households that use heating oil as their primary source of heating fuel will spend 45% more on average for heating this winter compared with last winter because of higher retail heating oil prices and higher expected consumption. Of the states surveyed in HOPU, residential heating oil prices ranged from a low of $4.28/gal in Nebraska to as high as $6.13/gal in Delaware on November 14.

The HOPU is part of the State Heating Oil and Propane Program (SHOPP), a joint effort to collect state-level residential heating oil and propane price data from October through March among EIA and several states where heating oil and propane use is common. SHOPP collects residential heating oil and propane prices for 21 states. In 18 additional states, SHOPP collects only propane prices, and in the District of Columbia, SHOPP collects only heating oil prices.

The HOPU also publishes wholesale heating oil and propane prices for 26 states. We publish price data in the HOPU each Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. eastern time from the first week of October through the last week of March on our Winter Heating Fuels and Heating Oil and Propane Update web pages.

Principal contributors: Marcela Bradbury, Matthew French