Bloomberg News

Warm Weather in Eastern U.S. Crimps Energy Demand for Heating

March 12, 2012

Above-normal temperatures in the eastern half of the U.S. will cut the amount of energy needed to heat homes and business by 60 percent or more in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions, forecasts say.

The U.S. heating-degree days value through March 17 is forecast to be 56, or 82 lower than normal and 60 below last year, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Maryland.

Temperatures will range from 14 to 22 degrees Fahrenheit (7.8 to 12.2 Celsius) above normal from the upper Great Plains to New York City, said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.

Traders watch temperature predictions and heating degree days values to gauge energy use and demand. About 51 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

The high temperature in New York City may reach 71 degrees tomorrow and the 60s for the rest of the week, according to the National Weather Service. Boston may have 70 today.

The high in Chicago is forecast to be 69 today and may reach 79 later this week, the National Weather Service said. Washington is expected to see 79 by week’s end.

Heating-Degree Days

Heating-degree days values are calculated by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees to show energy demand. Higher values mean cooler weather and more energy being used to heat homes and businesses.

The gas-weighted value for the week is 59, or 92 lower than normal and 67 below last year, according to the climate center. The oil-weighted forecast is for 89, or 100 below normal and 73 lower than last year.

Salmon said temperatures will be warm enough in the South that there won’t be an energy demand for heating this week.

The climate center predicted Texas would have a cooling- degree days value of 34, or 21 above normal and 14 above last year, while Louisiana would have 38, or 26 above normal and 27 above last year.

Cooling degree days values are similar to heating degree days values, except designed to show how much energy is needed to cool homes and businesses.

A base of 65 is subtracted from the daily average temperature. The higher the vale, the warmer the weather and the more energy is needed to run air conditioners.

Southern Warmth

Today’s high temperature in Dallas is expected to be 81 and the high 70s for the rest of the week, according to the weather service. Houston is expected to reach 80 tomorrow.

Other states where cooling-degree days values were predicted this week include Alabama and Arizona at 12, Arkansas and Oklahoma at 13, Mississippi at 17 and Florida at 43.

The warm weather is expected into the last week of March, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

Computer models predict a cold front may push into the Midwest and eastern U.S. in about two weeks, which may lower temperatures, Rogers said in his 11- to 15-day forecast.

In New York, the normal average temperature on March 17 is about 43 degrees, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s 39 in Boston, 39 in Chicago, 55 in Atlanta, 63 in Houston, 47 in Seattle and 59 in Burbank, California.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan in Boston at bsullivan10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net


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