Here’s a note of caution, in the context of current economic conditions--a survey indicates homeowners will not take major action to save on the utility bill, whereas businesses are much more likely to be proactive.
But consider that what is economically feasible/justifiable depends completely on one’s cost structure. When that changes, the whole behavior pattern gets revisited. Thus it’s noteworthy that some forecasters are expecting oil to rise and stay above $100/b in the next few years, and mutual funds and pension funds are piling into energy investment, anticipating tight supply and higher prices—see below.
Dr. Stephen R. Humphrey, Director,
School of Natural Resources and Environment,
Box 116455, 103 Black Hall, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-6455 USA
Tel. 352-392-9230, Fax 352-392-9748
Five oil and natural gas industry groups have advanced to seize the largest sector share among the top 20 industries.
One cause has been oil prices, which have risen 18% to more than $81 a barrel, from a Feb. 5 low that coincided with the stock market's bottom.
The increase easily outpaced the Nasdaq's 11% gain during the same period. It put oil back to near the high end of a price range in which it has traded since October.
Natural gas prices have fallen 17% since Feb. 5.
Both oil and natural gas markets remain awash in supply. But anticipation of a recovery in demand has held most oil and gas within the top 50 rankings since January.
Demand for gasoline rose sharply over the past two weeks, according to Energy Information Administration data. But the gain was simply a rebound, said Jeff Mower, editor in chief of Platt's Oilgram Price Report, after a dent caused by the month's heavy storms along the East Coast.
"We're still not seeing consistent recovery in gasoline (demand)," Mower said.
Still, the price of gasoline firmed in tandem with the bounce in oil demand. Crude prices helped gasoline climb, Mower said. So did optimism about the economy. Another factor: Investors moved into the gasoline market. Mower says recent Commodities Future Trading Commission reports have shown pronounced increases in investments among noncommercial buyers, including money managers and funds.
"They've really gone long on this gasoline market," Mower said.