Average residential energy costs

From the Department of Energy, August 2023:

Type of Energy  Per million BTU
 Electricity       $46.19
 Kerosene           33.53
 Propane            32.62
 Heating Oil        28.36
 Natural Gas        13.97



Healthy food costs more than junk food.

However, healthy food may still be a better bargain if it results in you living longer.


However, keeping the cold out of my house with electricity would cost 3x as much as natural gas. Admittedly, I could afford either, but the much higher energy cost leads to more energy poverty. The higher cost is also a regressive tax on the poor.

“Out of a total of 118.2 million US households, in 2015, the US Energy Information Administration estimated that 17 million households received an energy disconnect/delivery stop notice and 25 million households had to forgo food and medicine to pay energy bills.”




It might cost 3x as much as natural gas. Electric resistance heating will virtually always be more expensive than natural gas heat. But in large parts of the country, heating by means of an electric heat pump is cheaper than natural gas.


The public school system in St Paul, MN needed a new heating system for one high school. They had a choice of either a nat gas system or a heat pump system. Both systems realistically cost the same amount of money. They went with the heat pump because it was less expensive to operate AND it was able to provide AC to a school that really needed it. Now they are doing it for other schools, as each one needs its heating system to be replaced.



Our house in Michigan was much cheaper to heat than my father-in-law’s. Amazed him. Our house was 3X the size (but admittedly very well insulated) and used a geothermal electrically powered heating/cooling system whereas he just used NG for heat. NG is good, but not necessarily the best for all applications… and other factors (such as insulation) can have a significant confounding effect on an analysis.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.


People are insanely ignorant about insulation and keeping doors and windows shut. I am stunned about this over and over.

My growing up home in Los Angeles had no A/C and we only used the gas heater for a few cold weeks each winter. The crux was to open the windows every night and take in the max cool and then shutting them just after dawn. With dual paned eyebrowed windows and concrete block walls the place stayed cool all day long.

Mom and Dad had to strictly train my idiot playmates to close the damn doors and windows. I absorbed that idea along with my toilet training.

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Great find regarding the St Paul Schools Geothermal project.

Geothermal is a bit finicky as you get to larger and larger installation. Schools, commercial and industry in Minnesota benefit from glacial aquifers, highly porous sandy substrates and an excess of free cooling hours needed to make these projects work well.

The further south you go towards the equator, the less excess free cooling you have. Geology is extremely important in these projects as well. However, you may be surprises where they will work with the right conditions.

(e.g. a volcanic island surrounded by ocean should have difficulty retaining heat - but it doesn’t, despite the common sense thoughts about water flows through that highly porous media. High tidal swells do impact this, however.)

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You can only like this post one time <=== the ~error message I would have gotten on the old boards.

I do this today along with some strategically placed shade trees. No A/C in the bay area.
Peak indoor temp during this past summer was about 75-76 on most of the hottest days.


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One disadvantage to electrifying everything is that the grid will then have two peak seasons to deal with, summer and winter.


Is that a disadvantage? The reason I ask is you need enough capacity for the hottest day of the year. The rest of the year that capacity is unused. If you could use more of that capacity more of the year it should decrease the unit price.


It is if the grid is under strain at peak periods (and there seems to be a lot of articles about the grid being under strain).


Hence the need to rebuild the grid–and realize the benefits of doing so.

Not within most people’s house lifetimes. Installation of heat pumps for a medium house runs at least $5000. And then you’re paying for the electricity to run the heat pumps ON TOP of a somewhat reduced fossil fuel heating cost. The payback period is… forever. Regressive, unavailable to lower-incomes… a luxury.

(Installed a compressor / 3 A/C hyperheat unit system in my house a year ago. Great for A/C, not so great for heat at 25c/kWH.)


Installation of a gas-fired furnace costs around $5K too.

That’s why I included the caveat “in large parts of the country.” If you are paying a lot for electricity or live in a cold place, then it probably doesn’t make sense. But it is still incredibly unlikely a heat pump would cost three times as much.

Texas showed us what that is like in spades.

Now Texas has to upgrade it grid and generation to meet both their summer peaks and winter peaks.

In many places, there are tax credits for heat pump installation. And they are usually limited by income, so mostly available to lower income people. It is quite possible, even probable, that in those places, installing a heat pump system would cost them less out of pocket than installing a traditional fossil-fuel based system. The payback period could be instant!

Nope. If they use nat gas for heat, huge savings every year on the nat gas bill. If they use electricity to heat, then payoff could be even sooner. Electric pumps are cheap to run. Electric heat and AC are $$$$ to run.

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It always depends on where you are. Solar makes sense in the Maryland summer for AC, but it does not work well for heat in the Maryland winter. Our neighborhood has natural gas piped in; out in the boondocks people have oil tanks instead (or they may install geothermal systems). It also depends on how hard it is to install a new system. If you live on an eighth of an acre your situation is not the same as someone who lives on a half-acre or more. It always amazes me when I see cheap houses in Pennsylvania with electric space heaters, but they have those because they are easy to install.

Anyhow, Texas has both wind and Sun year round, which is not the case in most places.


Er… nope. Because (up here in NE), when nat gas prices spiked as they did last fall, the utilities - burning nat gas and oil that has to be shipped up here expensively because no pipelines allowed for NIMBY/green reasons - filed for and got prices of electricity doubled. So whether we used the hyperheats OR oil it ended up being the same - and with oil costing $4 to $5 A GALLON, it cost $1000 a month for heat.

So, yeah - payback period is infinite. All the subsidies do is reduce the initial investment cost. But at least we’re more comfortable in the lengthening hot, humid summers.


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