Special Report

Most Expensive Cities for Heating a Home This Winter

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The way we experience ambient temperatures seems to be highly personal. Even in hot climates, some people never turn on an air conditioner, making do with ceiling fans and cross-ventilation, while others keep their abodes as chilly as a meat locker. In wintertime, the same kinds of differences exist: 68ºF is just fine for some folks, while others crank the heat up to as much as 75ºF, maybe even higher.

One thing is certain: In most of the United States, once the fall and winter months arrive, people tend to spend a lot of money on keeping warm inside.

This year and into the first months of 2024, heating costs will go up in some places and stay the same or even drop in others – depending not only on personal tolerances but also on just how cold it gets and of course on the current price of energy, whatever its source.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the 46% of American households that use natural gas will probably end up paying less, as gas prices will most likely be lower than they were last winter. The agency estimates that the average cost to heat a home with natural gas will drop from $760 last year to $601 this year. Electric and propane prices will remain approximately the same, while the cost of heating oil will jump from $1,720 to $1,851. (In case you want to disconnect from conventional utilities altogether, these are the best states to live off the grid.)

Residents of some cities will suffer more from high heating bills this season than others, however, according to a report from HVAC Gnome, an online home heating and air conditioning services marketplace. The site compared the relative costs of staying warm this winter in the 499 largest U.S. cities. (The original list included 500 cities, but Honolulu was excluded because energy bills in Hawaii reflect the costs of cooling, not warming, even in the winter months.)

Drawing on data from eight governmental and nongovernmental sources (including FEMA, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Green Building Information Gateway), the study considered 10 metrics across three general categories: Energy costs (for electricity and natural gas), cost inflators (average home square footage, historical average of extremely cold days, etc.), and lack of energy efficiency. (On a less granular level, these are the states that spend the most on utilities.)

The site notes that “Average electricity price data was collected at the local level and adjusted by average monthly household income, while average natural gas price data was collected at the state level and adjusted by both average monthly household income and cost of living.”

One surprise: Big Northeastern cities like Boston and New York actually fare reasonably well, due to more affordable energy prices and/or more energy-efficient homes.

Here are the 10 most expensive cities to warm your home this winter:

Overall Rank City State Overall Score Energy Costs Rank Cost Inflators Rank Lack of Energy Efficiency Rank
10 Detroit MI 65.72 57 26 177
9 Dayton OH 66.20 61 50 159
8 Columbia MO 66.24 82 97 229
7 Kansas City KS 66.43 46 28 108
6 Topeka KS 67.21 68 91 137
5 St. Joseph MO 67.41 54 96 16
4 Flint MI 70.77 47 89 25
3 Independence MO 71.08 22 76 141
2 Cleveland OH 72.27 26 66 163
1 Springfield MO 72.94 71 113 20

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