Oct 10 (Reuters) - U.S. households that mainly use heating oil to warm their homes should pay 19 percent more for it this winter compared to a year earlier, as low distillate stocks and new fuel regulations drive up prices, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.
The roughly 6 percent of U.S. homes that rely on the fuel will pay an average of $407 more this winter, according to the government agency's Winter Fuels Outlook. About 80 percent of all U.S. homes that use heating oil are in the Northeast.
The report said low inventories in the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast, as well as new low-sulfur diesel regulations for New York state, would tighten the market for distillates. Such fuels include heating oil and diesel.
The EIA said 17 percent of the cost increase would be due to higher consumption, while 2 percent would be based on elevated prices.
Mild weather limited heating fuel consumption last winter. The EIA based its pricing assumptions on near-normal temperatures for this winter.
Natural gas consumers, which account for about half of U.S. homes, should expect to pay 15 percent, or $89, more than last winter, due primarily to forecasts of higher consumption.
Residential natural gas prices for the Northeast are seen rising by 4 percent during the winter months, while in the South prices are seen declining by 3 percent, according to the EIA forecast.
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Car dealerships are one place where price negotiations are expected. While sales staff like to focus on monthly payments, it's smarter to negotiate the overall price, <a href="http://moneyland.time.com/2012/08/13/12-things-you-should-always-haggle-over/#1-cars" target="_hplink">according to <em>Time</em></a>. If you're buying a used car, always be sure to look up the vehicle's actual Blue Book value. Have the car inspected and haggle for a lower price if it needs servicing.
The <a href="http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea09.shtm" target="_hplink">FTC advises consumers</a> to shop around and negotiate all mortgage rates and fees, and doing so can save thousands of dollars. Those with good credit scores can often negotiate for a lower APR, while everyone should discuss lowering or eliminating certain <a href="http://www.lender411.com/five-mortgage-closing-costs-you-can-negotiate-lower/" target="_hplink">closing fees</a> and processing charges.
Monthly rent rates are totally negotiable, especially when you're renewing a lease. "If you pay on time every month, it'll be worth it for your landlord to offer you a better rate than to take a gamble with a new tenant," says HuffPost Money Editor Emily Cohn.
Customers often get caught by surprise when their monthly service charges skyrocket due to expired promotional rates. "Generally, keep track of what competitors are currently charging new customers, and indicate to your current provider that you are considering switching. Tell them the deal you saw, and ask them to match or beat," Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org <a href="http://moneyland.time.com/2012/08/13/12-things-you-should-always-haggle-over/#11-phone-tv-and-internet-service" target="_hplink">told <em>Time</em></a>.
Credit Card Fees
While not everyone is capable of haggling for a lower interest rate, you may have luck negotiating out of penalty fees, especially if you're generally a good customer. If you're looking into opening a new card, be sure to <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0711/7-Fees-That-You-Should-Always-Negotiate.aspx#axzz24lTQxmHG" target="_hplink">mention competitors' offers and rates</a> to the company representative.
Customers can often negotiate the elimination of annual fees or registration costs when beginning or renewing memberships. Often, the <a href="http://moneyland.time.com/2012/08/13/12-things-you-should-always-haggle-over/#12-subscriptions-and-memberships" target="_hplink">threat that you may take your business elsewhere</a> is enough to bend a customer-service rep into giving you a deal, according to <em>Time</em>.
Home And Yard Maintenance
With the home <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/june-jobs-report-unemployment-rate_n_1653579.html" target="_hplink">construction industry still struggling</a>, maintenance workers are more willing to negotiate prices for services. Discuss <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/news/pf_article_111978.html" target="_hplink">opting for lower-cost materials</a> and discounts on labor, advises Yahoo Finance.
Be sure to inspect clothes off the rack before bringing them to the checkout counter. If you find a pull or a small stain, pointing it out to a salesperson might snag you a discount on the item.
If you're going to haggle on anything, it should be on used goods. You should take the price tag at a garage sale or antique shop as a suggestion.
Much like credit card companies, travel sites compete with each other for customers, so make sure to shop around before booking a vacation. If you're using a travel agent, don't be afraid to reference deals you find online. If a travel site or agent won't <a href="http://moneyland.time.com/2012/08/13/12-things-you-should-always-haggle-over/#8-vacation-lodging" target="_hplink">budge on the per-night rate</a>, they may offer a deal on transportation or throw in a perk, like a spa service.