The Energy Information Administration (EIA) issued its Winter Outlook in mid-October – a report we review with much interest every year. The Outlook offers the EIA’s best estimate about which way heating costs are headed for the season.

There was great news in the report for homeowners: In fact, the EIA predicts that, on average across all regions, oilheat users would spend 15% less this winter than last, and propane users would spend 13% less.  That’s welcome news for anyone who remembers when the words “polar vortex” from last year.

Still, remember that those savings are only estimates. One major variable: weather. If we have a colder-than-expected winter, we’ll all spend more on heating. Finally, even if costs remain lower, remember that winter heating bills can be a sizable household expense. Even after savings, oilheat and propane customers may spend $1,500, or $2,000, or even more to heat their homes this winter.

Be sure to take full advantage of programs like budget payments and capped pricing for heating oil. And be sure your system gets annual maintenance – a key to higher efficiency that lowers fuel costs.