Heating costs compared to last year will be on the rise for these 5 US cities

John Roach
Wintry Weather in Chicago
A woman walking the half mile from the Chicago Aquarium to the Adler Planetarium braces in a stiff wind and blowing snow off Lake Michigan in Chicago. (AP File Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The weather system that is bringing an invasion of Arctic air and will plunge temperatures to the lowest levels since last winter across the Midwest could be a harbinger of things to come this winter for several major U.S. cities.

People in places such as New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati are expected to incur substantial increases in home heating costs - those for natural gas, heating oil and electricity - compared to the 2018-19 season from now through March 1, 2020, based on the exclusive AccuWeather 90-day forecast. It's available at AccuWeather.com (search your city to view the monthly outlook) and you can also keep apprised of your forecast on the free AccuWeather app.

Estimated home heating costs for New York City, currently at 8.3% below last year, are expected to rise to 2.9% above 2018-19 through March 1. Similar increases in heating costs through March 1 compared to last year are expected in Philadelphia (currently 9.1% below 2018 but predicted to rise to 3.7% above), San Francisco (19.7% below 2018 to the same as last year), Washington, D.C. (10.6% below 2018 to 7.5% above) and Cincinnati (9.7 below 2018 to 6.0% above).

Compared to the long-term normal, increases in heating costs are also expected in those cities through March 1. New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, all with costs currently running the same as normal, will increase to 1.8% above normal in New York, 1.9% above normal in Philadelphia and 2.9% above normal in Cincinnati through March 1. Estimated heating costs in San Francisco, currently at 26.2% below normal, will rise to just 9.7% below normal, while Washington, D.C., with costs now running 5.7% below normal, will increase to the same as normal through March 1.

Many other cities, such as Boston and Los Angeles, are also expected to see significant increases in home heating costs compared to normal from now through March 1, according to AccuWeather's 90-day forecast. Despite the anticipated increases, costs are still expected to be below the long-term normal overall through March 1 in those two cities, largely because of the warmer-than-normal start to the heating season, which runs from Sept. 1 through the following April or May.

Boston's estimated home heating costs, currently 10.2% below normal, are expected to increase from now through March 1 to 1.6% below normal. Costs in Los Angeles - with a smaller sample size of days requiring heating costs - are expected to increase from 47.3% below normal now to just 8.6% below normal by March 1.

The actual costs of electricity and fuel vary from year to year and from place to place, so the percentage change in consumers' bills may vary from these percentages, which assume other heating-related costs are largely unchanged year-over-year.

A plethora of steps can be taken to keep heating costs under control in times of high demand. Some tried-and-true tips to follow this winter include, most simply, monitoring thermostat settings. In addition, homeowners can replace worn weather strips and ensure that heating equipment is well maintained to curb costs. Also, upgrading a home's insulation can lead to significant savings on energy costs.

Download the free AccuWeather app to track the temperature for your area. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DIRECTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.