Do your fuel bills seem high despite all the news about falling oil prices, not to mention all the conservation efforts you've carefully taken?
Nowhere are average energy prices higher for all major fuels than in the South Atlantic region -- comprising the District, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware and all southern coastal states -- according to a new report by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA), an arm of the Department of Energy.
The report also noted that for the period April 1982 through March 1983 (referred to as "1982"), the most recent period for which figures are available, not even the Northeast, where electricity prices make Washington area rates seem cheap by comparison, quite matches the overall major fuel prices on an energy-content basis of the South Atlantic.
However, actual dollar expenditures were 5 percent and 6 percent higher in the eastern and western parts of the North Central region, and 26 percent and 28 percent in the Middle Atlantic and New England parts of the Northeast. Energy bills were 33 percent lower in the Pacific states and 13 percent lower in the Rocky Mountain states, the EIA said.
Homes in the South Atlantic paid an average of $12.60 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), compared to a national average of $10.18/mmBtu. No other region even approached $12/mmBtu. Even homes in supposedly high priced New England paid only $11.61/mmBtu. And the Northeast as a whole paid less than the South, $11.25/mmBtu versus $11.60/mmBtu.
Not surprisingly, average residential energy use stood at a low 80 mmBtu. This was well under the national average, below other parts of the South, and second only to homes enjoying the mild weather of the Pacific states, where average consumption was 79 mmBtu.
Average total household expenditures for all fuels were $1,007 in the South Atlantic, up from $939 during the previous year and only slightly lower for the average for the South, but nearly 4 percent lower than the $1,048 of the nation as a whole.
Following the national pattern, natural gas use slumped in the South Atlantic, falling more than 8 percent to 77 mmBtu, compared to drops of 13 percent nationally, to 88 mmBtu, and 5 percent in the South as a whole, to 78 mmBtu.
The price of natural gas in the South Atlantic was $6.48/mmBtu, higher than anywhere else in the South (East South Central and West South Central) it was also higher than in the Pacific and Mountain regions of the West, or the East or West parts of the North Central region. However it was lower than in New England or the Mid-Atlantic states of the Northeast, the report said.
Average 12-month expenditures for this energy commodity stood at $501 in 1982, the highest in the South as a whole, and higher than in the western regions, but lower than in the North Central or North Eastern regions. One year earlier, expenditures for natural gas in the South Atlantic averaged $441, the EIA said.
Average household electricity consumption was 35 mmBtu, unchanged from the year earlier period.
This was not unlike the other regions of the South, where electricity consumption in 1982 generally stayed within 2 percent of that from 1981 and national consumption dropped only 3 percent.
The South as a whole had a relatively high consumption rate for electricity.
Expenditures for electricity were relatively low in the South Atlantic, compared to the other seven regions. The average bill stood at $671, up from $633 one year earlier, but still below the $686 and $759 for the other southern regions. Regional expenditures were put at $400 and $520 in the West, $514 and $560 in the sectors of the North Central area and $562 and $588 for New England and the Middle Atlantic.
Electricity prices here in the South Atlantic were $19.44/mmBtu, topped by the $28.28/mmBtu of the Middle Atlantic, $24.99./MmBtu, $20.26/mmBtu of the West South Central and $19.91/mmBtu of the East North Central. Nationally, the average price was $19.98/mmBtu.
Average houehold use of fuel oil or kerosene in the South Atlantic was $49 mmBtu in 1982, down from 58 mmBtu in 1981 and just 2 percent higher than in the South as a whole. Consumption of this fuel was about twice as high in New England and 80 percent higher in the Middle Atlantic states. Consumption in the North Central states was the same or somewhat higher, and in the West it was similar to the South Atlantic.
Fuel oil/kerosene prices in the South Atlantic were $8.52/mmBtu, slightly ahead of the national average of $8.42/mmBtu. Here, prices were relatively uniform, ranging from a low of $8.08/mmBtu in the West North Central to $8.71/mmBtu in the Pacific states.
The average expenditure of $417 for this commodity in South Atlantic households was more than twice as high than in the East South Central states, but exactly even with that for Rocky Mountain states. It was as high as $818 in New England, $743 in the Middle Atlantic and $593 in the East North Central states.
Average liquid petroleum gas (LPG) use was only 29 mmBtu in the South Atlantic, down from 32 mmBtu in 1981, and far below the 54 mmBtu in the East, 34 mmBtu in the South as a hole and 61 mmBtu in the North Central states, but well below the 22 mmBtu in the Northeast.
Homes in the South Atlantic spent an average of 305 for LPG, also well below all areas except the Northeast. South Atlantic prices per mmBtu for this fuel were $10.51, higher than the national average's $9.42, the South's $9.82, the North Central's $8.44 and the West's $9.68 but below the $11.52 in the Northeast.
The report also notes that the South Atlantic relied on natural gas for heating to a far lesser extent than did other parts of the country. Gas accounted for 33 percent of South Atlantic home heating, compared to 47 percent for the South as a whole. Gas also accounted for 73 percent in the North Central area, 42 percent in the Northeast and 68 percent in the West.
Electricity took a 26 percent share in the South Atlantic, compared to 24 percent in the South as a whole, 19 percent in the West, 10 percent in North Central states and only 7 percent in the Northeast.
Fuel oil/kerosene was the main heating fuel choice of 17 percent of South Atlantic homes, compared to 9 percent in the entire South, 3 percent in the West, 7 percent in the North Central states and 42 percent in the Northeast.
Wood heating accounted for 11 percent of the main heating fuels in the South Atlantic, slightly above the 9 percent for the entire South, 6 percent for the West, 5 percent for the North Central states and 6 percent in the Northeast.
And LPG and other fuels accounted for the remaining 13 percent, contrasted with 11 percent in the South as a whole, 4 percent in the West, 5 percent in the North Central states and 3 percent in the Northeast.