EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The fall season arrives Thursday night and chilly temperatures are not far behind. While many of us may get a chill thinking about what follows, experts say it’s time to start preparing our homes and bank accounts for the heating season.

In the midst of a global energy crisis, supply shortages, and inflation, home heating challenges are expected this year as the fuel market remains in flux.

“This is certainly a concern for consumers,” said Frank Macchiarola, Senior VP of the Policy, Economics & Regulatory Affairs at American Petroleum Institute.

American Petroleum Institute’s Frank Macchiarola projects a bleak, yet uncertain future for those of us who heat our homes with heating oil, something most do who call Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania home.

“For the past year, really, both oil and natural gas prices have been elevated. This is a function primarily of supply and demand,” Macchiarola explained.

The last cost figures for residential heating oil date back to March at $4.95 a gallon.

So how much will it cost this upcoming heating season?

“We can’t project prices but the fundamentals are concerning. Inventories are low, demand remains high and supply is a challenge,” Macchiarola continued.

The industry currently is cranking out 12 million barrels of oil per day, down a million barrels from its pre-pandemic production high, and down since the war on Ukraine.

“We’ve seen significant demand coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and supplies here in the United States and globally have not kept pace with that demand increase,” Macchiarola commented.

The Associated Press reports diesel and heating oil supplies in the northeast are more than 50% below the recent average.

Hurricanes and severe weather could cause even more issues.

“Any time you have a type of disruption to the marketplace like a hurricane that impacts refineries or impacts production in the Gulf of Mexico, you have the potential to disrupt oil and gas production, and therefore the markets. So, we’re going to watch it closely,” Macchiarola stated.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the source of America’s official energy statistics, is set to release its annual winter fuels outlook on October 12.