Priciest Cities in the U.S.A to Heat a Home


Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay 

Ever wondered what the average heating bill in other US cities is like? We looked up some of the most expensive cities in the United States in terms of heating expenses in this article.

The summer has gone, and so has the need to switch on your air conditioning unit at home. Like most Americans, you must have started to enjoy the season of comfortable weather and lower power bills. But before you rejoice, let’s not forget that winter is fast approaching, along with the burden of higher energy bills for keeping the heating unit switched on.

No other cities in the U.S.A have to belt out a significant amount in paying the heating bills other than Boston. According to a study, the city would spend an average of $1,635 per household on the heating bills for the next year.

To actuate our list, we have studied 40 largest metro cities of the U.S.A., sorting out 20 based on their size and geographical periphery. We have calculated how much an average American household residing in a 2,100-square-feet house as described by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would spend on heating bills. The factors used were — usual temperature standard, history of energy consumption, and costs of heating commodities such as oil, propane, natural gas, and electricity. Almost 98% of American homes use these four sources of energy for heating purposes. DOE’s Energy Information Administration and local utility companies helped us to gather the cost figures. We calculated the tariff and adjusted it with the respective surplus of each city.

Climate varies from one city to another, and we had to rank the cities according to the weather of that place. For example, Detroit homes spend more money on energy bills than that of Phoenix as the former is a colder place than the latter.

To calculate the energy demand, we surveyed ten years of data from National Weather Service and an index called “heating degree days.” This indicator is used to calculate daily temperature and energy demand gives a ration of air circulation between outside temperature and room temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Since with the decrease of temperature more energy is consumed to heat a home which results in the consumption of more BTUs of heat, it is important to keep in mind the index while calculating the expense of energy bills.

While ranking the cities according to the average temperature, Minneapolis topped the list as the coldest city followed by Buffalo and New York. Therefore, the amount of energy required to heat one home in Minneapolis is way more than what is needed in Boston or New York.

But the power bills tell a different story. The cost of energy mostly depends on the quality of the heating system and the price of energy in that area. Therefore, although the weather of Chicago is much colder than that of Washington D.C., the energy bills are lower in the former. The reason behind this is that one-third of the residents in Washington use the more expensive electricity option for heating purposes compared to the use of less costly natural gasses in 90% Chicago homes. The same logic applies to the houses in Philadelphia and Denver. Although Denver is colder than Philadelphia, the average expenditure is less as the houses in Denver relies more on natural gasses than on electricity, unlike Philadelphia.

If we compare the price of energy to energy efficiency, oil proves to be a better resource than gas or electricity. But the expenditure is always on the higher side as it’s hard to curb the fluctuating price of oils. According to the Energy Information Administration, the price of oil has increased 234% in the last ten years while the price of natural gas rose to just 72% in the same span. Thus, cities in Northeast such as New England and Mid-Atlantic spend more on power bills than the inhabitants of the Midwest. The problem of price surge is not easy to solve because reconfiguring the heating units in Northeastern homes would cost thousands of dollars. Also, the availability and price of gas in that area is not suitable for such a switch.

The cost of natural gas is determined in dollars per 1000 cubic feet. The ability of local suppliers to meet the demand and how they are regulated and taxed by the state are the factors that govern the regional price difference. Therefore, while the gas price in Boston is $16.85, Minneapolis gets it at the rate of $12.38 per 1000 cubic feet. This means a switch to natural gasses in a Boston house is only profitable if it gets to buy it at the same rate as Minneapolis, i.e., a savings of $515 per year when the gas price is $12.38 compared to a savings of only $190 when the price is $16.85. This is because the ratio between utility supply and capacity is directly proportional to the demand of the product. Thus, natural gas is less expensive in the areas where the supply is abundant.

But if you choose to wait for the regional systems to change drastically, you may have to wait for quite a few winters to see that change.