Rising utilities for off-campus students

By on December 5, 2002

Students living off campus and paying utilities, beware; heating bills are expected to skyrocket this winter!
According to a release made by the U.S. Department of Energy, those that heat their homes with natural gas will see a 55 percent hike, while oil heat bills are expected to rise by 42 percent in the October-to-March heating period. Either way, Quinnipiac University and those living off campus will be paying the price.
Last year, Quinnipiac spent a “cool million” in heating costs alone, according to the Associate Director of Facilities, Bob Visighini. Approximately $1,052,000 worth of heat was consumed within the residence halls and academic buildings on campus last year That fee will increase this winter, according to this year’s forecast released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).
The cold temperatures predicted for this winter are part of the reason for the increase. Last winter was considered mild according to weather experts and this year is predicted to be closer to normal. “The assumption of normal weather this winter translates into a scenario that is 12% colder than last winter,” according to the Energy Information Administration.
Colder temperatures are not the only reason for the high price of heat. Another is the rising cost of fuel resulting from U.S. tension with the Middle East. The EIA reports a 50 percent increase in crude oil prices this past year. Analysts attribute the increase to the Bush administration’s ongoing difficulties with Iraq. Oil prices are expected to rise to about $30 a barrel in the next few months. Last year at this time, the prices ranged from $18 to $25.
The rising price of oil affects the costs of a variety of energy products. Natural gas, for example, can often be used instead of oil, especially in industry, but a rise in oil prices usually triggers higher prices for natural gas as well.
“I’m not happy about it because it’s hard enough to afford living off campus, especially when everything else is so expensive,” said senior Abbie Bowen.
The northeast region of the U.S. pays the highest regional average in the country for heat. On average, New Englanders pay about $707 a year to heat their homes, compared to the national average, which is $425.
Some off-campus residents have come up with a series of tactics to avoid freezing temperatures and save money at the same time. Senior Willaim Villany and his roommates have started visiting other students to avoid turning up the thermostat.
“Since the cold weather hit I have started going to other people’s houses on cold nights, but so far my sneaky trick hasn’t worked too well, because when I get there we have to party with our down jackets on, so there goes that,” said Villany.
Senior Lori Wilson was surprised when hearing about the heat increases.
“We have already started wearing multiple sweatshirts our house, and hearing facts like that makes me think I should go out and get some more,” said Wilson.
As if those figures were the worst of it, the outcome of military action against Iraq would likely push prices even higher. By disrupting the flow of oil to the U.S. by Middle Eastern distributors, everything from heat and energy bills to gassing up one’s car could escalate to altitudinous levels.


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