NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Don't worry, folks: The economy -- like the weather -- will soon heat up after an unusually chilly winter, says Luke Tilley, chief economist at Wilmington Trust.

"We had a similarly harsh winter in 2014 and a lot of data points at that time such as retail sales, durable goods orders and manufacturing activity were also depressed," says Tilley. "But we had a fairly strong bounceback in the second and third quarters of last year, and we are expecting a fairly similar dynamic this year."

Tilley expects gross domestic product growth of 1.8% in the first quarter as a result of the harsh winter season. For the full year 2015, he sees economic expansion of 3%. GDP expanded at a 2.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2014, below Wall Street estimates, due to a stronger dollar pressuring corporate profits.

Tilley expects the stronger dollar to weigh on export-oriented U.S. companies this coming earnings season. Offsetting that profit pressure, however, will be increased consumer spending due to lower energy prices, which has so far been absent from the economic data.

Not to fear, says Tilley. The energy dividend will soon start smoldering in consumers' pockets as well.

"There is no good historical relationship as to how long it takes people to spend the money they are saving at the pump, but that's coming soon and it's certainly part of the underlying strength that we see in the economy," says Tilley.

And while housing has historically led the economy back from recessions, Tilley said this recovery will be different because the sector was such a major component of the downturn. Although February new home sales came in at a Street-beating 539,000, Tilley cautioned against expecting too much good news in the coming spring selling-season due to affordability concerns. The problem, in his view, is that wages did not rise quickly enough to keep up with home prices during the recovery.

Of course, homes will become even less affordable, especially for first time home-buyers, if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates later this year as Tilley expects.

"That's something that the Fed needs to watch, and as investors we are watching it too," says Tilley. "But remember that if and when the Fed does raise rates, it means they see the economy as being strong and getting stronger -- just like we do."