Are Electric Bills Higher in Winter or Summer?

As the seasons change, many homeowners notice fluctuations in their monthly electric bills. Some assume summertime air conditioning costs lead to the highest bills of the year. But for many, winter heating bills can top summer cooling costs. Understanding the factors that drive winter and summer electric costs can help you get a handle on your utility budget.

Why Winter Electric Bills Are Often Higher

There are a few key reasons winter electric bills tend to exceed summer bills for a lot of homeowners:

  • Heating requires more energy. Fossil fuel heating systems like furnaces are less efficient than electric heat pumps and AC units. The same amount of energy delivered as heat creates less indoor warming than cooling.

  • Homes leak more heat. Poor insulation and drafts let heated air escape more easily than cool air. Your home constantly loses heat in winter.

  • People are home more. With kids home from school and less time spent on activities, families stay home more in winter. More time at home means more energy used.

  • Days are shorter. Reduced daylight hours in winter require more indoor lighting.

  • More appliances run. People use more hot water and run clothes dryers more in winter.

While summer cooling provides relief from the heat, winter heating is needed for survival in many regions. The greater energy required to heat homes combined with other factors commonly make winter the season of higher electricity consumption.

Why Summer Bills Can Be Higher

However, there are some situations where your summer electric bills exceed winter bills:

  • All-electric home. If you rely solely on electric for all winter heating, your AC and heating costs may balance out.

  • Mild winters. In warmer climates with minimal heating needs, summer cooling is the bigger energy expense.

  • High AC settings. Keeping your home very cool with AC creates greater energy demands.

  • Less insulation. Poor insulation disproportionately increases cooling costs in summer.

  • Peak energy rates. Some utilities charge higher rates during peak AC demand periods.

Depending on your climate, insulation, and energy sources, summer cooling costs may still top winter heating bills for some households.

Comparing Seasonal Energy Use

To get a true side-by-side comparison of your household’s seasonal energy use, you need to look at your total winter energy costs vs. total summer energy costs.

For example:


  • Electric bill: $200
  • Natural gas bill: $150
  • Propane expenditures: $500
  • Total winter energy cost: $850


  • Electric bill: $275
  • Total summer energy cost: $275

Even though the straight electric bill is lower in winter, this household’s total winter energy expenditure is higher after factoring in natural gas and propane.

Don’t just look at your electric bill alone. Consider all energy sources used for heating and cooling when comparing seasonal costs.

Tips to Lower Winter Electric Bills

Here are some tips to help reduce your winter electricity bills:

  • Improve insulation. Add insulation to attics, basements and walls to prevent heat loss.

  • Seal air leaks. Use caulk and weatherstripping to seal drafty doors, windows, outlets, and more.

  • Upgrade heating system. Replace an old furnace or boiler with a new high-efficiency model.

  • Have your HVAC inspected. Get a tune-up to ensure it’s running efficiently.

  • Install a smart thermostat. Optimize heating schedules and settings with a programmable or learning thermostat.

  • Lower the thermostat. Set to 68°F while home and lower while asleep or away. Put on a sweater.

  • Ensure adequate warmth. Don’t let rooms get so cold that the system has to work overtime to heat them again.

  • Change filters monthly. Dirty filters make systems work harder.

  • Open curtains. Let sunlight warm rooms naturally during the day.

  • Close curtains at night. Reduce heat loss through windows at night.

  • Adjust humidity. Keep levels around 30-50% to balance comfort and efficiency.

  • Run ceiling fans. Can distribute heat evenly so furnace doesn’t overwork.

  • Limit use of portable heaters. They are expensive to operate.

With some conservation steps and upgrades, you can reduce those unpleasantly high winter electricity bills.

Savings Tips for Summer AC Bills

You can also take steps to lower your summer cooling bills, such as:

  • Set your thermostat higher when possible – 78°F is often recommended
  • Use ceiling fans to supplement AC
  • Keep blinds closed to block sun
  • Avoid using heat-generating appliances like ovens
  • Turn off unused lights and electronics
  • Change AC filters monthly
  • Have a tune-up done in spring to maximize efficiency
  • Plant trees and shrubs to shade your home
  • Ensure your attic is well-insulated
  • Seal any air leaks to prevent cool air escape

Savvy energy use and efficiency improvements will help control both your winter and summer energy bills.

Consider Long-Term Upgrades

Major upgrades like replacing old windows, installing solar panels, or buying a new high-efficiency AC unit require bigger upfront costs. But over the long-run, they can dramatically cut your energy consumption and costs.

If you’re still unclear whether winter or summer bills are higher, tracking your energy use throughout the year will provide more definitive insight. Looking at both electric and other fuel bills over the seasons can pinpoint when your home uses the most energy. This information empowers you to target the right efficiency solutions to manage seasonal energy costs moving forward. With smart planning, you can stay cozy in winter and cool in summer without breaking the bank on utility bills.


What time of year is your electric bill the highest?


Because demand for electricity is lowest during the spring and fall, electricity may cost less in these seasons. Electricity market rates are higher in summer and winter because people use more electricity for air conditioning and heat.

Do you use more electricity in the summer or winter?


The amount of energy you use in a month affects your electric bill, and winter is typically a time when electricity usage is higher.

What is the best temperature to keep your electric bill low?


Set your thermostat to 68 degrees 68 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Department of Energy. But if that’s too specific, anywhere around 70 degrees is a good target when it gets cold, Ram Narayanamurthy, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office, told USA TODAY.

What uses the most electricity in the winter?


1. Air Conditioning and Heating. As your main source of comfort from extreme outdoor temperatures, your HVAC system uses the most energy of any single appliance or system at 46 percent of the average U.S. home’s energy consumption.

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