The government has some good news for homeowners heating with oil. The Energy Department is lowering its projections for winter heating costs because of a dramatic drop in crude oil demand and prices.
A report by the department's Energy Information Administration says a worldwide economic slowdown will help global oil demand to fall for two consecutive years -- the first time that's happened in 30 years.
The agency says it expects crude oil prices to average $51 a barrel next year, about a third of this year's peak price of $147, and slightly more than the current price of just under $43 a barrel. It also reported that the economic slowdown has caused Americans to use about 1.2 million barrels a day less this year than they did last year.
Home heating oil this winter is averaging $2.53 a gallon -- about a fourth less than last winter. Heating with natural gas is expected to average about $860 this winter, which is about the same as last winter.