Cheapest way to heat your home? Four fuels compared.

What’s the cheapest way to heat your home: oil, natural gas, electricity, propane? Home heating costs vary by region and even by house. Here's what the average Northeast homeowner can expect to pay to heat his or her home with various fuels this winter, as forecast by the Energy Information Administration (EIA):

4. Heating oil: $2,526

Molly Riley/Reuters/File
A heating oil delivery truck drives through Alexandria, Va., in this 2010 file photo. Of all four fuels, oil is the most costly way to heat a home this winter, according to the EIA.

Oil prices have risen so high that oil heat, once competitive with other major home-heating fuels, has become the most expensive to use. Prices are tied to world events, so they can change quickly. But the trend of the past decade is clear: Heating oil prices have more than doubled from $10.31 per million British thermal units to more than $25 per million Btus.

Nationally, only about 6 percent of homeowners use oil as their primary home heating source. Most of them are located in the Northeast.

This comparison uses the EIA’s Northeast prices, because it’s the one region that uses all four fuels in quantity and because it reflects the full costs of heating in a northern climate.

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