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Lower heating bills predicted

There's good news for people worried about winter heating bills.

Nationwide, people using natural gas this winter stand to save $105, compared with last year, the government said. Households that use propane, heating oil or electric heat also are expected to spend less.

The Energy Information Administration said in its annual winter outlook Tuesday that lower fuel costs across the board and an expected milder winter will cut average heating costs by 8 percent compared to last year - to about $960.

Here's the averages for spending the October-to-March winter season depending on how homes are heated:

Natural gas - $783 on average, nearly 12 percent less than last winter.

Oil - $1,821, about 2 percent lower.

Electric - $933, a decline of 2 percent

Propane - $1,667, some 14 percent less.

The report cautioned that the projections reflect average costs and that expenditures for individual households will vary depending on local weather conditions, the size and energy efficiency of homes and the efficiency of heating equipment.

- The Associated Press

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MIDLANDS FORECAST

1%

Expected drop in the average October natural gas bill from last year for S.C. Electric & Gas Co.'s 307,000 customers in South Carolina.

4%

How much the average monthly SCE&G natural gas bills for December, January and February would fall from a year earlier if wholesale prices stay the same.

$143

The average monthly SCE&G natural gas bill during January and February 2009.

40%

Chance that temperatures in the Midlands will be below normal from December through February, according to the latest National Weather Service forecast.

- Andrew Shain

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