Was your heating bill a bit friendlier to your wallet this winter? If so, there’s a good chance you can thank El Niño.
The exceptionally strong El Niño in the Pacific has been driving chaotic weather across the globe for months, but it also contributed to a mild winter in the U.S., which was about 15 percent warmer than the winter of 2014-2015.
The milder temperatures led people to use less energy to heat their homes compared to the previous winter, a new U.S. Department of Energy report shows. Above-normal temperatures contributed to a 16 percent drop in demand for propane used for heating, a 45 percent drop in heating oil consumption and a 6 percent decrease in electricity consumption compared to the winter of 2014-2015.
Heating demand nationwide declined as much as 27 percent in December compared to the average of the previous 10 winters as measured in heating degree days, a measure of how much utility bills increase as a result of the weather, according to the report.
Though heating demand in January matched the 10-year average, February demand was 17 percent below normal and March was 26 percent below normal.
Slade Johnson, an analyst for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said it’s too early to know if such a dramatic fall in energy demand for home heating has been seen before until at least late spring when the nation’s heating season has passed.