Droves of families faced higher than average electric bills last winter due to a surge in the supply cost of the energy commodity. Unfortunately, according to some experts, this year won't be much different.
Families already dealing with increased costs due to inflation are expected to pay even more than last year, according to a recent report from the National Energy Assistance Directors Association (NEADA).
Earlier this month, the NEADA projected that the average cost to heat a home would increase by 17.2% since last winter, rising from $1,025 to $1,202. Heating oil costs will jump an estimated 54% to $1,876, while natural gas costs may increase 24% to $709, according to the NEADA.
Overall, the total cost of home heating, including natural gas, electricity, heating oil and propane, is estimated to jump from $127.9 billion to $149.9 billion this year.
It’s going to put a squeeze on already tight family budgets, Nick Loris, C3 Solutions vice president of Public Policy, told FOX Business.
"Whether it's through electric, natural gas or oil, prices are up across the board," Loris said. "And more money dedicated to paying for heat means fewer resources are essential for human well-being," such as food or healthcare.
However, the impact "will be regressive, hurting the poor the most since they spend a higher percentage of their budget on energy costs," he added.
Consolidated Edison Inc., which provides energy for roughly 10 million people who live in New York City and Westchester County, is already issuing tips for how consumers can save well ahead of the winter season.
"Con Edison is urging customers to take actions now that can help them manage costs this winter as market prices for electricity and natural gas are expected to be substantially higher," the company said in a recent notice.
The bill increases are driven mainly by "increases in the market cost of natural gas, which is volatile and also influences electric market costs," according to the utility company. Con Ed said local electric and gas companies and customers all across the Northeast "are facing similar circumstances."
For Con Ed, the average residential natural gas heating customer that uses 165 therms per month should expect to pay $460 a month from November through March 2023, which is a 32% increase on average compared to a year ago. Con Ed said supply costs would account for the marjory of that increase, about $90, while delivery charges are estimated to account for $22.
"Con Edison buys natural gas and electricity on the wholesale markets and uses a variety of strategies to stabilize pricing for customers," Con Ed said in a statement. "The company does not set supply costs and does not make a profit on the supply."
However, higher natural gas prices will also impact electricity costs because power generation plants in the region mainly run on natural gas, the company said.
For example, according to the company's projections, a New York City residential customer using 300 kilowatt-hours a month can expect to dole out $116, a 22% increase over last year.
Along with its warning notice, the utility issued a handful of tips, such as replacing conventional light bulbs with LED bulbs or having a qualified contractor clean and inspect heating systems, to help customers save amid the uncertain economic conditions. It is also allowing customers to make payment plans to help lessen the financial burden.