EIA predicts increase in wood heating this winter

By Erin Voegele | October 14, 2016

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released the October edition of its Short-Term Energy Outlook, along with its Winter Fuels Outlook, predicting household expenditures on natural gas, heating oil, electricity and propane will increase this winter.

According to EIA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts this winter, measured in heating degree days, will be 3 percent warmer than the previous 10-year average, but much colder than last winter, which averaged 15 percent warmer than the 10-year average nationally.

Within the report, the EIA notes the number of households using cord wood or wood pellets as the primary spacing heating fuel has increased 26 percent since 2005, reaching approximately 2.5 billion households in 2015. In addition, approximately 8 percent of households use wood as a secondary source of heat, making wood second only to electricity as a supplemental heating fuel.

The EIA also indicated approximately 20 percent, or 1.1 million, New England homes used wood for space heating, water heating, or cooking in 2009, which is nearly twice the national rate. In addition, almost half of rural households in New England use wood, compared to only 12 percent of the region’s urban households.

Nationwide, 2.48 million households are expected to use wood as a primary heating fuel during the 2016-’17 winter, up 1.7 percent from last winter.

In the STEO, EIA also predicts wood biomass will be used to generate 112,000 MWh of electricity per day this year, increasing to 118,000 MWh per day next year. Waste biomass is expected to be used to generate 59,000 MWh of electricity per day this year, falling to 58,000 MWh per day next year.

The electric power sector is expected to consume 0.237 quadrillion Btu (quad) of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.267 quad next year. The sector is also expected to consume 0.277 quad of waste biomass this year, falling to 0.271 quad next year.

The industrial sector is expected to consume 1.258 quad of wood biomass this year, falling to 1.236 quad next year. In addition, the sector is expected to consume 0.191 quad of waste biomass this year, increasing to 0.195 quad next year.

The commercial sector is expected to consume 0.075 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.078 quad next year. The sector is also expected to consume 0.049 quad of waste biomass this year, falling to 0.048 quad next year.

The residential sector is expected to consume 0.403 quad of wood biomass this year, increasing to 0.426 quad next year.