This is the first post in our Beginner’s Guide to Heating Bills.
Heating bills vary greatly depending on house size, climate, insulation, fuel choice and fuel prices. But it is easy enough to find some averages.
In the graph above we have five typical winter fuel bills, converted to US dollars at average exchange rates over the last winter. These costs may include a little energy used for hot water or cooking, but they are mostly about heat.
Winter Fuel Bills Compared
In the winter of 2012/13 the average American home using natural gas spent $598 on fuel over the heating period.
British homes using natural gas spent £607 ($956) over the same period, while German homes using gas spent €770 ($994).
The American homes actually used more, because they have big houses, but the bill works out lower because they also have very cheap natural gas prices.
US homes using oil (mostly in the North East) have huge heating bills, both because they use a lot of energy and because fuel oil is expensive, as we will see later in this series.
What exactly do we pay for?
Before moving on to fun stuff, like energy use and heat costs, it is worth understanding why we have heating bills.
Although I pay my heating bill each year to keep my home comfortable, the thing that really costs me is heat loss. If my home was perfectly insulated there would be no heating bill. In fact my body heat and appliances would gradually bake the place.
Natural gas, electricity, oil and wood are used to replace heat that is lost via convection (through surfaces) and ventilation (air leakage). That’s what I pay for.
Next in this series we look at heating fuel use.