With high energy costs affecting almost every industry from airlines to retail to consumer goods to toy makers, normally I'd be out stalking a beaten-up blue chip. But lately I've found myself looking outside of my normal junkyard, wondering whether this high-priced fuel environment can bring forth any good news.
Because heating oil and natural gas prices have hit all-time records, the short-term outlook for consumers' heating expenses is dreary. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that households should expect to pay 30% to 48% more to heat their homes this winter, depending on the type of fuel used (natural gas users are facing the highest increase). Worse yet, a winter that turns out to be longer and colder than currently expected could send heating bills, in EIA's parlance, "significantly higher" still.
On the bright side, households heated primarily with electricity may have to pay only about 5% more than last year. Which explains why I am venturing outside the boundaries of my junkyard. I can't help asking whether consumers will spend more this winter on supplemental electric heating to combat higher oil and gas prices.
If so, non-fuel-powered heating products, such as electric heaters, fireplaces, and even wood stoves, may be flying off the shelves at Motley Fool Inside Value pick Home Depot
There are many other areas outside of the oil and gas box. For example, while I don't see people punching holes in their ceilings to generate more radiant heat, solar power players such as Evergreen Solar
So will next spring's heat on the Street be fueled by this winter's energy turmoil? It may or may not, but every once in a while it's good to step outside of your junkyard.
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Fool contributor M.D. Mitchell is down the street at the local junkyard looking for some good trash. It will cost you about 9.5 calories to send him an email. He owns none of the above companies.