The United States residential market for heating oil very much behaves the same way as the UK market. Home-owners tend to be quite rural and will be much more exposed to wholesale energy fluctuations than gas customers.
The beleaguered UK homeowner, faced with ever-increasing bills, may be interested to see what the US Government has been recording. The graph below, taken from the US Energy Information Administration's Heating Oil and Propane Update page, shows the monthly averages of US residential heating oil prices, compared to the previous year:
To convert the American figures to UK pence per litre, simply multiply by 17.15 (assuming an exchange rate of $1.54 in the £). So, the early January price of $3.34/gallon is equivalent to 57p/L. It seems that our friends across the Atlantic have seen sizeable price increases over the 2010 winter too.
Other charts from the eia.gov website:
Full breakdown of residential prices since 1990
Full breakdown of wholesale prices since 1990
This appears to indicate that residential prices have risen in line with wholesale prices - a very different experience to what we suspect has been happening in the UK.
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on 20 January 2011 Reply
Good hort article on comparative markets. Having worked for COP and looking after the Eastern Seeboard Distributors, I can confirm UK and US distributors as well as consumers alike in both countries suffer the same dilema. However, in real terms US workers have more disposal income at hand so the conclusion about the price they are paying is the same does not really equate. In real terms, forget the exchange rate my 10 year experiences in the US has taught me that £1 = $1. So the US still has cheaper heating oil comparatively speaking.