Keeping an Eye on Energy Prices with Wolfram|Alpha

November 5, 2010
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C. Alan Joyce
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As temperatures start falling across the U.S., many of us are looking more closely at our home heating and energy bills, wondering how much they might go up this winter. Wolfram|Alpha can’t yet predict the future, but now it can help you explore historical and recent energy-price trends in most U.S. states, thanks to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Ask Wolfram|Alpha about “heating oil prices in New York”, for example, and you’ll see that as of November 1, the statewide average price was about $3 per gallon—slightly higher than at the start of last winter, but quite a bit below the peak in late winter of 2008. Propane prices are also higher than a year ago, and you can also see that prices climbed dramatically over the course of last winter. You can keep checking back over the course of the season to see which way prices are trending in your state.

Propane prices in New York

(Note that the jagged appearance of heating oil and propane plots is due to the fact that prices are only reported for part of the year; these prices are also reported for only about 20, mostly northern, U.S. states.)

You can also ask Wolfram|Alpha about natural gas and electricity prices. The EIA keeps these figures less up to date than figures for heating oil and propane, but you can clearly see long-term price trends and seasonal fluctuations for both of them.

Comparing natural gas prices in Massachusetts and Florida

Wolfram|Alpha can also use this raw information to compute prices for any arbitrary amount of electricity or other fuel type. Try asking for the “price of 150 kWh of electricity in Nevada”, for example, or the “average cost of 20 gallons of propane in Vermont”.

The average cost of 20 gallons of propane in Vermont

How are energy prices faring in your area? Are you taking any specific measures to keep your energy bills down this winter?

8 Comments

Neat, but I think there may be a parser bug.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=texas+electricity+prices+residential+vs+commercial+vs+industrial+sector

When I replace Vermont with Texas I get one Texas rate listed and two Wisconsin rates -!

Posted by David Sutherland November 5, 2010 at 12:37 pm Reply

    David, Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our team is working to resolve this. In the mean time we’ve updated the post with a better example. Thank you.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team November 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm Reply

      But the problem is still not solved… =)

      Posted by arcadiagiulio November 10, 2010 at 10:48 am Reply

Greetings, I wonder if Six Sigma can be applied in mathematica, to describe processes.

Posted by ALBERTO November 5, 2010 at 3:43 pm Reply

Hi,

“EIA” is simply a misprint, not a kind of new notion or service in W|A?

Posted by gorod1277 November 7, 2010 at 8:18 pm Reply

    Hi gorod1277, “EIA” is an acronym for the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Thank you.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team November 8, 2010 at 9:49 am Reply

      Hi, Wolfram|Alpha Team,

      Thank you very much for explanatains. My false. I am sorry.

      Reading the article I was sure that the phrase “The EIA keeps these figures less up to date” means “W|A keeps ….”. The reason was that I am very far from checking electricity price, making medical calculations etc. using W|A, while any new W|A services in applications to maths and physics are quite interesting (for me)…

      Posted by gorod1277 November 13, 2010 at 7:14 pm Reply

Interesting….useful?

Posted by Kyle Alm November 8, 2010 at 1:52 pm Reply
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