# Average Heating Bill – US And Other Countries – 2023

## This Is The First Post In Our Beginner’s Guide to Heating Bills

Heating bills vary greatly depending on objective factors such as house size, local climate, house insulation, fuel choice and fuel prices.

Heating bills also vary depending on subjective factors like personal preferences, surprise surprise!

There are people who feel ok with a house at 68 F (20 C), and others who want to push the temperature up to 75 F (24 C) to be comfortable.

Accounting for all these objective and subjective factors completely in a systematic analysis would be very difficult. Instead, we resort to averages.

When we talk heating, we mean both space heating for dwelling occupant’s comfort, as well as water heating, for bathing and showering.

In the graph above we have five typical winter fuel bills, converted to US dollars at average exchange rates over the winter of 2022.

These costs may include a little energy used for hot water or cooking, but they are mostly about heat.

Sources of data are: EIA, DECC, Bundesweiter, Gov.uk. These figures also take into account recent events in Russia and Ukraine that have affected energy prices.

## Calculating Fuel Bills

As a proxy for the winter bill, we’ll first calculate the natural gas bill for year-round (12 months covering January to December), and then again for winter months (4 months covering December to March).

If there were no seasonal variation then we expect the 4 winter months to be 1/3 the cost of the year-around bill, but most certainly we’ll see that the gas bill for the winter months will be proportionally higher.

The reason we start with the natural gas bill is because we have a sense that its dominated by heating air and water costs, with much less apportioned to cooking and clothes drying. Here are our results for the heating bills.

## Winter Fuel Bills Compared

US homes spent an average of \$809 to \$2285 depending on the heating type. British homes using natural gas spent £2,430 over the same period, while German homes using gas spent \$2,484.

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 that have only gotten cheaper relative to Europe in 2022.

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.

The trend over the last 10 years also has been increasing cost of energy, particularly in Europe. Before US oil heating was the most expensive.

Now, US oil heating and European natural gas heating are tied for being as expensive as each other.

## Methodology

Below we discuss the ways we computed the heating bills.

## US Natural Gas Heating Bill

In order to calculate averages, we need to know the aggregate natural gas consumption over those two time periods (12 months of Jan to Dec, and 4 months of Nov to Mar) , the number of households that use natural gas, and the average price of gas over the 50 states.

We don’t have access to data about whether the households actually have a natural gas heater, whether its a furnace or boiler, whether they use natural gas for other purposes, and whether they may in fact supplement with even another heater source like a space heater, heat pump etc.

All of those factors get swept under the rug.

The average price over the 50 states isn’t exactly the right way to do this, in fact we need the average weighted price by population.

From the EIA.gov website on natural gas consumption, we find these numbers.

12 months – January to December 2021

Aggregate natural gas consumption: 4,716,209 mmcf (million cubic ft of gas)

Aggregate number of households with natural gas: 71,936,406

Average price of natural gas for the 50 states: \$12.34 per mcf (thousand cubic ft of gas)

Average natural gas consumption: 65,560 cf per household

Calculated average total bill: \$809 per household or \$67 per month per household

4 winter months – November 2021 to March 2022

Aggregate natural gas consumption: 3,017,661 mmcf (million cubic ft of gas)

Aggregate number of households with natural gas: 71,936,406

Average price of natural gas for the 50 states: \$12.34 per mcf (thousand cubic ft of gas)

Average natural gas consumption: 41,949 cf per household

Average total bill: \$517 per household or \$129 per month per household

In order to compute the heating cost for other fuel sources and appliances, we estimate the heating needs in terms of the natural gas consumption.

This can be done easily by converting the cubic ft of gas to BTU or kWh equivalent because BTU and kWh are more general units of energy.

Since we’re dealing with natural gas furnaces and boilers of unknown efficiencies, we assume that the efficiency is 0.80 so the true energy needs are a bit lower multiplied by a factor of 0.80.

12 months – January to December 2021

Aggregate energy needs: 54 MMBTU (million BTU) per household / 15,943 kWh per household

4 winter months – November 2021 to March 2022

Aggregate energy needs: 34 MMBTU (million BTU) per household / 10,082 kWh per household

## US Electric Heating Bill – Resistive Heater, also known as Electrical Baseboard Heating

When we say electric, we mean electric resistive heating or baseboard heaters rather than heat pumps. Resistive heaters also include infrared quartz heaters efficiency which we cover elsewhere.

The conversion to electrical heating costs is straightforward because resistive heating is a one-to-one conversion from kWh energy needed to kWh electricity consumed.

All we need to know is that in 2021, the average electricity cost in the US was \$0.13 per kWh. Then we multiply this by the respective energy needs for the two time periods to get the following.

12 months – January to December 2021

Average electricity heating bill: \$2,072

4 winter months – November 2021 to March 2022

Average electricity heating bill: \$1,310

## US Electric Heating Bill – Heat Pump

The conversion to a heat pump is fairly simple if we consider that a heat pump is able to move 2.5 to 3.5 amount of heat for the equivalent single unit of energy spent.

That is, if a heat pump uses up 1 kWh of electricity, it’s able to move 2.5 kWh of heat from the outside to the inside. This means that the equivalent bill is reduced by the same factor.

12 months – January to December 2021

Average electricity heating bill: \$828

4 winter months – November 2021 to March 2022

Average electricity heating bill: \$524

## US Oil Heating Bill

Oil is used only in some parts of the US and continues to be displaced by natural gas, electricity, and even wood. We include the calculations here roughly because it’s so common.

To get the oil heating bill, we convert the heating requirements in BTU to gallons of oil needed. The conversion rate is 139000 BTU per gallon of oil. Each gallon of heating oil is about \$5.00.

Certainly there’s state-to-state variation but instead of getting too detailed here we’re going to use this rough figure. The efficiency of oil heaters is not that great, which we estimate to be at 85%.

We divide by this factor to adjust the heating needs upwards.

12 months – January to December 2021

Aggregate electricity heating bill: \$2,285

4 winter months – November 2021 to March 2022

Aggregate electricity heating bill: \$1,439

## UK Heating Bill – Mains Gas

Data in the UK is harder to come. All our estimates for the US go out the window. The size of houses is smaller in the UK and the energy needs are different.

About 83% of the population uses gas for heating and the remainder use electricity but we don’t have a breakdown of heat pumps vs resistive heating.

Furthermore, the UK is experiencing first-hand a natural gas shortage due to the Russia-Ukraine war. To counteract the shortage, the government is capping prices.

We know that the current data is from the UK Government website, energy consumption stats, households. We can only estimate for the annual usage.

Surprisingly the cap means that residential natural gas prices have a much smaller differential with US prices (\$0.08 per kWh) compared to spot prices on the commodities market in the respective countries.

Aggregate domestic consumption: 318,392 GWh

Number of households with gas heating: 16 million families

Price of gas: £0.103 per kWh

Average household natural gas cost: £2,017 (\$2,430)

## Germany Heating Bill – Natural Gas

Data for Germany is equally difficult to come by. The average family of four is supposed to consume 20,000 kWh of natural gas energy per year.

This ends up being slightly higher than the average household consumption for a US household.

It appears that half of households in Germany use natural gas for heating but since we’re already using household figures we don’t need the fractional natural gas use information.

News articles say that the price for natural gas has been capped at €0.12 per kWh. This means that the hypothetical German household that uses this much gas energy will spend €2,400 per year.

## 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 radiation (through surfaces) and convection/ventilation (air leakage).  That’s what I pay for.

## Ways To Reduce The Heating Bill

Regardless of where you live and what energy source you use, you can take the same steps to reduce the heating bill. This is because the one common denominator is heating loss. So its a matter of generating the heat, and keeping it in. I put down 10 tips for you.

## 1. Install energy efficient windows and doors.

One way to reduce your heating bills is to install energy-efficient windows and doors. These windows and doors are made with materials that help keep heat in your home and prevent heat from escaping.

Energy-efficient windows and doors can also help reduce noise from outside.

## 2. Use weatherstripping and caulking to seal air leaks.

Another way to reduce your heating bills is to use weatherstripping and caulking to seal air leaks. Air leaks can occur around doors and windows.

Sealing these air leaks can help keep heat in your home and prevent heat from escaping.

## 3. Install insulation in the walls, floors, and attic.

Another way to reduce your heating bills is to install insulation in the walls, floors, and attic. Insulation helps keep heat in your home and prevent heat from escaping.

## 4. Set the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.

Another way to reduce your heating bills is to set the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. This will help keep your home warm without using too much energy.

## 5. Use a programmable thermostat to automatically lower the temperature when you are away from home or asleep.

Another way to reduce your heating bills is to install a programmable thermostat, which will automatically lower the temperature when you are away from home or asleep.

A programmable thermostat can save you up to \$180 per year in energy costs, so it is a wise investment for any homeowner.

## 6. Turn off unused lights and appliances.

You can also save on your energy bill by turning off unused lights and appliances. If you are not using an appliance, be sure to unplug it. Even when they are turned off, many appliances still use energy.

## 7. Use energy efficient light bulbs.

One of the easiest ways to save energy and money is to switch to energy efficient light bulbs. These bulbs use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.

## 8. Wash clothes in cold water.

Another way to save energy is to wash your clothes in cold water. Washing your clothes in cold water can save you up to \$60 per year in energy costs. Heating water is one of the top ten uses of energy in a house.

## 9. Line dry clothes when possible.

Hanging your clothes to dry is a great way to save energy. Line drying your clothes can save you up to \$100 per year in energy costs.

## 10. Reduce the use of heat-generating appliances such as the oven and stove.

Using the oven and stove generate a lot of heat, so it’s best to use them sparingly. When you do use them, use the stovetop instead of the oven, and use a pan with a lid to trap the heat.

##### Lindsay Wilson
+ posts

I founded Shrink That Footprint in November 2012, after a long period of research. For many years I have calculated, studied and worked with carbon footprints, and Shrink That Footprint is that interest come to life.

I have an Economics degree from UCL, have previously worked as an energy efficiency analyst at BNEF and continue to work as a strategy consultant at Maneas.  I have consulted to numerous clients in energy and finance, as well as the World Economic Forum.

When I’m not crunching carbon footprints you’ll often find me helping my two year old son tend to the tomatoes, salad and peppers growing in our upcycled greenhouse.

### 1 thought on “Average Heating Bill – US And Other Countries – 2023”

1. Data is freely available about UK energy usage at OFGEM.
Very interesting but would be good to see US energy consumption in kWh to compare with other countries.
Heat pump data you use is theoretical, and COP reduces with outside temperature, so COP gets worse as heating demand increases.
All UK agencies have been lieing about air source heat pump financial efficiency for the last decade too. They don’t work (financially) but are essential environmentally. There’s a disparity that can only be resolved at a government level. Oh and in the UK the capital cost of the equipment is a complete rip off. My 36 kW oil boiler would cost £2000 new. Equivalent air source heat pumpS (yes I’d need 2) currently cost £35,000 in the UK.

would be interested to see the installation costs in the US.