Energy prices remain elevated ahead of heating season

Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 5:32 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It could cost you a little less to heat your home this winter. Heating prices have cooled since earlier this year but are still significantly higher than they were five years ago.

With temperatures falling, fuel oil and propane deliveries are ramping up around the region. The average retail price for propane is now only nine cents above the five-year average, but heating oil is nearly a full dollar more per gallon.

About 60% percent of Vermonters heat their homes with oil, propane, or kerosene, and those prices rose dramatically last winter due to the war in Ukraine.

“All that depends on what’s happening in the world, what’s happening with local supplies. The good news is that, unlike some times in past history, we have plenty of supply here in the United States and that’s what largely supplies the Vermont market,” said Matt Cota with the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

About 20% of Vermonters heat with natural gas -- almost all of them in the northwest corner of the state. Natural gas is considerably cheaper per heating unit than oil and propane, but it also experienced similar market disruptions last year. “Gas has been sort of a lower-cost energy source for a number of years. Last year we saw a very big spike due to the war in Ukraine and that was felt throughout the North American market. This year the prices have come down and we’ve been able to buy ahead, as a company, to be able to keep those rates low and stable for our customers,” said Neale Lunderville with Vermont Gas Systems.

Firewood prices continue to rise. Derrek Salls, the owner of Crosscut in Danville, says a kiln-dried cord of wood has increased by $100 in the last three years to around $500. Wood dealers have been hard hit by increased fuel costs. This summer’s wet weather and flooding also impacted the supply. “All expenses are going higher. So, I don’t think that even if they can cut a bunch of wood it’s gonna go down -- just because they have so much into it. We do too. So, we can’t just lower our prices because also we gotta stay up there, we can’t make a good profit margin also,” he said.

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