The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released their Short-Term Energy and Winter Fuels Outlook (PDF) yesterday, and there's some good news and some bad news.
First, the Bad News:
Heating costs will be higher this year than last year (not a huge surprise). What did surprise us here is that the higher heating costs this year will only be partially caused by higher energy prices. An equally important factor this winter is colder weather: more sustained, colder weather throughout the winter in addition to higher energy costs means that homeowners will be taking a double hit on heating bills.
Next, the Good News:
High heating costs get homeowners thinking about home performance and energy efficiency upgrades -- home upgrades whose benefits extend far beyond energy savings. If high heating cost predictions can spur people to take the plunge and to schedule that initial energy audit (followed up, hopefully, by a comprehensive home performance upgrade), everybody wins: the homeowner, the contractor, the auditor, the local economy. Since 78% of every dollar spent on oil leaves the local economy, the only loser would be the oil companies.
Key Takeaways from the Report:
A few of the most important bits of info from the report:
- Natural gas and oil prices are up
- Propane and electricity are down
- Total expenditures (projected) are up, across all fuels
- If forecasts are accurate, this will be the most expensive winter ever for users of heating oil
- Depending on how the weather does, heating costs for users of fuel oil could be up to 32% higher than last year. Ouch.
Here's an overview of projected increases from last year across all fuels:
What You, as a Home Performance Professional, Should Be Doing Now:
The big takeaway from this report is that heating costs are going to be up this year for most Americans. Yet, most homeowners in your market probably don't know this, because most average homeowners don't spend their mornings reading reports from the Energy Information Administration.
Consequently, it's your job to connect with the potential customers in your area and make sure they're aware of the high bills that are looming on the horizon. Post a blog post, start a little social media campaign, send some direct mail, send a newsletter, give a presentation -- do whatever it takes. In a sense, this is, of course, "marketing," but it's important enough that "public service" might be a more appropriate term.
- Energy prices are up, and they're probably not going back down
- We're in for a cold winter - stay comfortable!
- You can save money by investing in a home energy audit and home performance upgrade
- Doing so will also take money away from oil companies and petro-dictators, and help the local economy
- Invest now and save money every winter, forever
Have you been using winter fuel prices to market your home performance business? We'd love to hear any of your thoughts, strategies or feedback in the comments!