Get ready to pay more this winter to stay warm. Heating bills are expected to skyrocket this year.

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The Energy Department says heating bills will rise 20 percent for oil customers, 15 percent for those using natural gas and 5 percent for electricity customers, according to the Winter Fuels Outlook.

"If you use oil heat, you're going to pay a lot more than last year, maybe $200 more, and with a mild winter that we had last year that's going to be trouble for some people" said Tom Kloza, analyst at the Oil Price Information Service in Wall Township.

Heating oil customers are expected to pay an average of $3.80 per gallon, the highest price ever. That will result in record heating bills, at an average of $2,494.

Just 6 percent of the nation's households use heating oil, but they tend to be in some of the coldest parts of the country where heating needs are high, mainly in the Northeast. About half use natural gas for heat and 38 percent use electricity. Five percent of households use propane and 2 percent use wood.

Kloza blames the increase on higher demand and less inventory.

"Oil is made from crude which is priced globally and has stayed high because of increasing demand and worries in the Middle East, so this means a little bit tighter market for home heating oil in the Northeast."

But there's good news for customers who use electricity, propane or natural gas. They will see lower bills as prices remain relatively flat.

"Natural gas prices are about as low as we've seen them in the last ten or fifteen years because of an increase in natural gas production recently" said Kloza.

 

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)