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Heating bill relief expected

Oct 12, 2010 7:41:00 PM - thestate.com

Most U.S. homeowners should get some relief on their heating bills this winter.

The price of natural gas, the fuel that supplies 70 percent of the nation’s heat, is relatively low for the second year in a row, and falling. Also, forecasters predict a warmer winter across much of the country – especially in the Southeast, which suffered through a historically cold winter last year.

But those who rely on heating oil, and residents of the Pacific Northwest, may need to bundle up. Unlike natural gas, crude oil prices have risen sharply from their recession lows, pushing up the price of heating oil 16 percent over last year. And forecasters are predicting a cold and snowy winter in the Northwest.

Energy prices of all types rose sharply in the years leading up to the financial crisis, then all collapsed with the economy. Even as the economy has started to recover, natural gas prices have stayed low because supplies are ample and growing, says Jen Snyder, head of North American gas research at the consulting and analysis firm Wood Mackenzie.

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