It’s not even Halloween, but already Albertans are bracing for the onset of winter and colder weather. With those frigid temperatures come higher home heating costs, and most homes in the province are heated with natural gas. How have consumer gas prices varied over the years, and how do they compare with overall price inflation?
Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index includes natural gas prices for home heating in its basket of items tracked each month. The blue line in the graph below shows how natural gas prices have varied wildly since 1994. In this index, the price of gas in 2002 is set equal to an index value of 100. At the most recent reading, in September 2014, the index was 184.4—meaning that home heating costs have risen more than 84 per cent since 2002.
Over the same time period, the all-items consumer price index has advanced much more gradually. This is represented by the green line in the graph. Last month the index stood at 132.9—or about a third higher than it was in 2002. For most of the last twenty years, gas price increases have easily outpaced overall inflation.
But on the commodity markets recently, natural gas prices have been relatively weak. This is bad news for Alberta’s gas producers, but potentially good news for home heaters. If gas prices fail to rise much over the next few months, turning up the thermostat this year may pinch a bit less than in winters past.
**Article courtesy of Todd Hirsch of ATB Financial. Thanks Todd!!
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