Little has been subject to as much price fluctuation this year as the price of oil. Oil prices dominate the global economy because they determine the price of production all over the world.
OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, announced on October 20th 2022 that the price of oil had increased by 3% in 24 hours. However, they have also announced that as of November 1st , overseas oil production would be reduced by 2 million barrels per day.
With talks of global recession abounding, Russian oil embargos causing greater demand for oil from elsewhere, and a war in Ukraine, oil is a costly and concerning topic for many.
Effects Felt Around the Globe
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reneged on its previous forecasts concerning oil demand across the globe; the consistent rise of oil prices mean that for many, the price is too high. Instead, demand for oil is expected to fall, impacting production, and pushing businesses, and therefore their owners, into great fear of recession.
It is a situation currently balancing on a knife edge as Saudi oil producers slash production, affecting supply and further demand. With lower oil availability causing prices to continue to rise, communication between the US and the Middle East is fraught, and just before the midterms.
But for the average US householder concerned with keeping their homes warm this winter, how will this affect them?
Everyday Citizens the Worst Hit
Americans are at the mercy of those pulling the strings across the globe. While most have no say in billion-dollar oil deals and government oil import policies, they continue to sit nervously at home, concerned about the impact rising oil prices will have on a worryingly bleak winter.
The Department of Energy has reported its own concerns about sharp fuel price increases meaning this winter will be much costlier than the last, and families are already talking about the choices they may have to make between heating and eating.
Energy assistance programs for low-income families will likely struggle to keep up with demand, but several sources have put together helpful tips for families to stay as warm as possible this winter, for as little of their precious cash as they can afford to spend.
‘Heat the Human’
British economists are advising: “heat the human, not the home.”
Often, the temptation is to keep homes as warm and inviting as possible, but when turning on the heating is so expensive, it becomes more important to keep every person as warm as possible, not every room, particularly if that room is not being used.
Other advice includes:
- Layering Up – It can be easy to imagine that one thick blanket on the bed or one thick sweater during the day will be enough, but the trick is in the layering. Wearing a couple of t-shirts under the sweater and having extra sheets on the bed before adding the blanket will trap air, warming it up and keeping wearers (and sleepers) much warmer.
- Eating Regularly – There needn’t be the choice between heating and eating; one very often solves the other. Regular meals, including at least one hot meal a day and regular hot drinks, keep the body’s temperature up. Oatmeal for breakfast, hot soup, and tea and coffee through the day are all low-cost ways to stay both full and warm.
- Use Hot Water Bottles – For the cost of boiling one kettle of water on the stove, a hot water bottle can stay warm for hours. It can be tucked under sweaters, hugged on the couch, or slipped under bedsheets.
- Clean Off Condensation – Cold windows collect condensation as warm air hits them but neglecting to clean this off daily can make the problem worse, as it can cause damp. Keeping the windows cleaned of moisture will stop the room feeling so cold, too.
- Air Out the Bedroom – In the morning, be sure to throw back the covers and allow warm air from the night to leave the room. Leave the door open, so as not to allow the bed to get damp, which will cool down again by the time comes to getting into bed again.
Above all, those with young children and the elderly are most at risk, and families who need extra help should seek support from local financial aid agencies.