We’ve got good news and, well, ugly news.

The DOE released a winter weather and heating cost forecast in October.

The good news is that the average American will enjoy a slightly warmer winter, which means we’ll buy less fuel than last winter.

And the bad news? Prices for natural gas, and particularly heating oil, have risen, so heating our homes will cost us more this year.

Of course, the forecast isn’t uniform across the country. The DOE projects a 1% decrease in the consumption of fuel here in the Northeast. But fuel prices rose dramatically. The whopping 10% increase in the price of heating oil means users will pay an average of $198 more this heating season. Only 6% of U.S. households depend on heating oil, but 80% of these users live in the Northeast. It might be a great time to upgrade your heating system if you’re still using heating oil. Or you could move.

Oh, and sorry about the forecast for the West. The DOE says you’re on track to have a 3% colder winter season. Even though your price for natural gas is likely to be lower this year, your expenditures will be steady, or slightly up.

It’s a mixed bag for the South. You’re expected to have a 5% warmer winter (how is that fair?), but your heating costs will depend largely on your fuel. Natural gas prices are up 10% in the South, leading to a 6% increase in your probable costs this winter, but electric users can expect to pay nearly 2% less than last year.

Lucky Midwesterners get off easy this year, with a warmer winter and only slight price increases – they may see no increase in heating costs.

It amazes me that the DOE can provide winter weather predictions so early in the season. Now, if they could just help out with my fantasy football.