Heating oil costs expected to rise 20%

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The cost of staying warm this winter is going to grow for the average American, and it’s going to be especially painful for those who rely on heating oil, a federal agency said.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts a 20 percent increase in spending for heating oil but more modest increases of 3 percent for electricity and 5 percent for natural gas. Propane expenditures are expected to be roughly on par with last year, the agency said.

It’s tough news for residents of the Northeast, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the nation’s residential heating oil consumption.

“It’s a very big increase to the average American who’s trying to live paycheck to paycheck. That puts terrible pressure on them,” said 80-year-old Agnes Jones, of Lebanon, Maine, who’s getting by with help from federal heating assistance.