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U.S. Winter Heating Bills to Be Lower
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 11 - 10 - 2006

Winter heating bills are expected to be slightly lower for most U.S. families, with the highest reductions for those who use natural gas, the government said on Tuesday.
Families using natural gas should expect to pay an average of $119 less during the upcoming winter compared to last year, a decrease of 13 percent, the Energy Department said. Those heating their homes with fuel oil will pay $91 more, an increase of 6 percent.
Natural gas is the most widely used source of fuel for residential heating, especially in the central United States. Fuel oil is widely used in the northeast.
Government and industry officials note that weather always is a major factor in heating costs. If parts of the country experience an unusually cold winter, heating prices can surge.
As always, the uncertainty is substantial, and significantly colder temperatures could lead to substantially greater expenditures, said the department s Energy Information Administration chief, Guy Caruso.
Last winter, there was concern that heating costs would soar following the struggles of the oil and natural-gas industry to recover from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But the warmest January on record reduced demand and helped reduce costs for many consumers.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted Tuesday that most of the country will see above-normal winter temperatures, though slightly cooler than last year s very warm winter.
December is really unknown right now, but we have increasing confidence that it will get warmer as the season goes along. We don t see any freezes in Florida, which is good news for orange growers, said NOAA chief forecaster Michael Halpert.


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