Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
States Most Impacted by Rising Heating Costs This Winter [2024 Data Study]
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As the height of winter approaches in the U.S. and temperatures continue to drop across the country, many Americans are turning their focus to the high prices of household utilities — namely household heating fuels. On average, nearly half of residential energy consumption in the U.S. is attributable to space heating,¹ and 85% of U.S. adults² report that their utility costs have increased in recent years. While heating prices have come down in recent months compared to their 2023 peak, Americans are still projected to spend nearly 30% more on utilities this winter than before the pandemic.
Residential Winter Heating Fuel Prices Over Time
Recent inflation has impacted all major residential heating fuels. Image Credit: Upgraded Points
Despite the projected dip in utility prices this winter, the overall burden on American wallets remains significant. While winter electricity prices had been on a steady rise since the early 2000s, they distinctly shot up during the pandemic — rising 18% from winter 2019–2020 to winter 2022–2023. And with natural gas, the most common winter heating fuel source in the U.S., price inflation was even more dramatic. After remaining low since 2010 thanks to new extraction technologies,³ natural gas prices have risen nearly 27% since the winter of 2019–2020. Winter propane and heating oil prices also followed the trend — rising 23% and 39% during the same time period, respectively.
Geographical Differences in Primary Household Heating Fuels
While over 87% of households primarily use natural gas or electricity to heat their homes, northern states often rely on propane or heating oil. Image Credit: Upgraded Points
In the U.S., the use of different heating fuels varies significantly based on location. Nationally, natural gas is the predominant heating fuel and is the primary source in over 60 million homes (46% of the total). Compared to other heating fuels, natural gas has the least geographic variation, with at least a quarter of households relying on it as their primary heating source in all but 7 states.
Electricity is the second most common fuel for residential heating, serving as the primary source for approximately 54 million homes, mainly concentrated in the South and Pacific Northwest, where heating demands are lower. For instance, in Florida, over 90% of homes primarily use electricity for heating, while in northern states, this number typically falls below 20%. Conversely, propane and heating oil are more prevalent in regions with high heating demands where rural customers lack access to utility gas lines, as in parts of the Midwest and Northeast.
U.S. States Most and Least Impacted by Rising Heating Costs This Winter
Differences in fuels, prices, and climate create large regional variations in household utility expenditures, especially during the winter months.
According to forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residents of New Hampshire and Maine — who primarily rely on heating oil to heat their homes — are projected to spend 45.4% and 44.4% more on monthly household utility costs this winter than they did during the winter of 2019–2020.
Similarly, some areas in the South, like Louisiana (+37.8%) and Florida (+36.6%), are expected to receive significantly higher utility bills this winter.
Conversely, the remote states of Alaska (-11.2%) and Hawaii (-6.5%) already have relatively high utility costs during the winter months and are forecasted to experience smaller average monthly utility bills this year.
Below is a complete breakdown of all 50 states. The research was conducted by Upgraded Points using the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Refer to the methodology below for more details on how the analysis was conducted.
To find the locations most impacted by rising heating costs this winter, researchers at Upgraded Points analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook, Natural Gas data, Electricity data, Propane data, and Petroleum & Other Liquids data. The researchers ranked states according to the change in monthly winter household utility costs from winter 2019–2020 to winter 2023–2024. For the purposes of this analysis, winter was considered to be December through February, and the 4 most common heating fuel utilities (natural gas, electricity, propane, and heating oil) were considered in utility cost calculations. Household utility costs were calculated using regional energy data, consumption patterns, and the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook projections.
Rising household heating costs have gripped the U.S. over the past few years, fueled by global market strains, localized instability, and unpredictable weather. All major fuels — natural gas, electricity, propane, and heating oil — have seen pandemic-era price spikes. Electricity costs surged over 18%, while natural gas, the most common winter fuel, jumped nearly 27% from winter 2019–2020 to winter 2023–2024. Propane and heating oil followed suit, with significant inflation in recent years.
The increased utility cost burden varies regionally. Electricity, as a household heating option, is most popular in the South and Pacific Northwest. Natural gas is the most popular residential heating fuel overall but has recently experienced a much more rapid price increase and strained household budgets. The most vulnerable are areas in the Northern states that rely on propane or heating oil, both heavily influenced by global crude oil fluctuations. This complex landscape creates stark geographical disparities in winter utility expenditures.
1. U.S. Energy Information Administration. (2023, June 15). Space heating consumed the most energy of any end use in homes, according to latest data. https://www.eia.gov/pressroom/releases/press535.php. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. (2023, May). Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2022. https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2022-report-economic-well-being-us-households-202305.pdf. Retrieved January 16, 2024.
3. Fred Dews. (2015, March 23). The economic benefits of fracking. The Brookings Institution. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/the-economic-benefits-of-fracking/ Retrieved January 22, 2024.
Featured Image Credit: Upgraded Points
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