Talking Numbers

Why heating bills could plunge this winter

Heating bills could plunge this winter

Temperatures are starting to fall but natural gas prices are doing something rather surprising – they're falling along with it.

In fact, the price of natural gas is trading at $3.68 per mmbtu, roughly where it was a year ago – but 40 percent off its five-year highs set this past February.

While the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports natural gas storage is 9 percent lower this year than last year, one energy markets observer anticipates larger supplies could stem a major run-up in prices as the thermometer drops. Nonetheless, the EIA sees costs falling by about 5 percent for homes heated with natural gas.

(Read: )

"The shale gas boom is creating a supply boom," said CNBC contributor Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global. "Demand has to increase dramatically before we'll see prices increase."

While Sanchez sees natural gas prices heading south, that could change should the United States see a repeat of last year's weather. "It probably continues to go down for the rest of the fall," she said. "It will take probably another mini polar vortex to get it back up again."

But natural gas' declines may be attributed to the selloff in crude oil, according to Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson.

"It doesn't look well and that's not surprising given the weakness that we've seen in crude oil which is really a substitute good," said Ross, a "Talking Numbers" contributor.

In the last four months, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil has fallen 23 percent and continues to drop. Ross sees a bleak outlook for the price of natural gas as well.

(Read: Oil slips below $86 on global oversupply)

Ross' short-term chart shows natural gas breaking a three-month support level. "And when you look longer term, it goes from bad to worse," he added. "You can see there could be some significant downside in natural gas."

Ross is paying close attention to the $3.12 prices level which he sees as having been both support and resistance since 2011. A significant break below the 200-week moving average, which natural gas is currently testing, could mean a pullback to those levels – and a chance to go long the fuel at cheaper levels.

"I do think that will create a better buying opportunity later in the winter when people get in and take advantage of some of that weakness," Ross predicts. "But don't play it in the fall. Play it in the winter."

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