Prices for just about everything went up in 2021 as economies recovered from the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and demand outpaced supply, driving high-profile debates about inflation and global supply chains.
Higher costs for energy are a central variable to that equation, as the prices of oil, gas, and other fuels are embedded in the cost of everything, from the manufacturing and moving of products to generating electricity.
Here’s how much energy prices went up over the last year:
On its first trading day of 2021, global benchmark Brent crude closed at $51.09 per barrel. Despite a series of peaks and valleys, Brent grew significantly over the year’s course and hit a high of $86.40 on Oct. 26. That amounts to a 69% increase, and compared to the final week of October 2020, Brent saw a year-over-year rise of 125%.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate began the year at $47.62 per barrel, also peaking on Oct. 26 at $84.65, a nearly 78% increase.
So goes oil, so goes gasoline (for the most part). Drivers in October and November were paying the highest for a gallon of gas in seven years, when the average price reached above $3.40.
Price pressure varied across states, with states in the southeast and Midwest seeing the lowest prices on average and the west and northeast seeing prices on the higher end. For its part, California’s average hit a record $4.682 per gallon on Nov. 15, the second record day in a row. The Sunday before, regular hit $4.671 per day, breaking a previous record set in 2012.
Prices for natural gas, a key fuel in home heating and power generation, have responded to economywide pressures. Gas increased nearly 158% between its January low and October peak. Gas prices have since fallen back down but were still about 37% higher during the third week of December compared with the same time last year.
Propane and heating oil
Residential and wholesale propane prices during the first few months above the cold season were both well above last year, leading one analyst to assess in October that the market was preparing for “propane-market armageddon.” The average price for residential propane for the week of Dec. 13 was $2.697 per gallon, or about 42% above the same time last year, according to Energy Information Administration numbers. Meanwhile, wholesale prices have fallen about 25% since early October but are still up over last year.
Heating oil prices are also up. The average price for a gallon of residential heating oil was up 43% for the week of Dec. 13 year-over-year.
Residential power prices increased in every U.S. census division (i.e. New England, Middle Atlantic, Mountain, etc.) for the year ending in September, according to EIA . The nation saw a per kilowatt-hour increase of about 5% on average.