Heat Is On Homeowners’ Wallets as Natural Gas Costs Inflate 180% Ahead of Winter Months

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Natural gas prices in the United States hit their highest point in seven years this week just as the weather is getting ready to cool off in much of the country — a development that will bring no joy to Americans already battling higher inflation ahead of the holiday shopping season.

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Prices for natural gas closed at $5.90 per million British thermal units on Tuesday, CNN reported, which is the highest since 2014. Prices have risen more than 180% over the last year. Roughly half of U.S. households use natural gas to heat their homes and water, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The skyrocketing prices could be especially problematic if the country gets hit with an early frost or unseasonably cold temperatures before the official start of winter on Dec. 21.

“If we get an early frost, it could get ugly. It could get ugly fast,” Robert Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho Securities, told CNN.

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If you’re worried about the combination of high natural gas prices and a cold winter, then don’t read the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Here’s what it predicts: “This winter will be punctuated by positively bone-chilling, below-average temperatures across most of the United States.”

Janice Stillman, editor of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, added that the coming winter could well be one of the longest and coldest that we’ve seen in years.”

The surging natural gas prices are due to a combination of factors, the Financial Times reported: less drilling by U.S. shale producers, supply disruptions following hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and fast-rising demand.

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Oil and gas prices have risen so high that they’ve even caught the attention of President Joe Biden, who earlier this month called for an investigation into why average gasoline prices have risen nearly 50% over the past year.

For consumers, high natural gas prices represent one more escalating cost in a season full of them. As GOBankingRates reported earlier this week, officials at Costco, Nike, FedEx and other major brands warned that continued supply chain problems could lead to even higher inflation as the holidays approach.

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Meanwhile, those problems — coupled with more people working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic — have pushed prices higher for household staples such as coffee, tea, pet food and Lunchables.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.

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