Residential electric bills are at their highest in July, followed by August, as rising temperatures keep air conditioning units running overtime, and Hawaii has to pay the most with an average energy bill of $451, according to research from John Kiernan on WalletHub (full interactive at the bottom).
Energy bills: Alaska has highest fuel prices in the country
Hawaii has the highest electricity, natural gas, and fuel prices in the country (including Washington D.C.) simply because transportation makes everything more expensive, but the next most expensive states are more of a mixed bag. Mississippi has the highest energy bills in the lower 48 while Georgia, Alabama, and Texas all make the top ten, which makes sense considering how hot and muggy it gets in the South. A combination of high electricity prices and high natural gas consumption puts Connecticut at third most expensive followed by Georgia and Oklahoma.
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Even though Alaska has so much oil that residents get a check when the rest of us are paying state income taxes, it turns out they pay the second highest fuel prices in the country. Not that it matters, since they use less fuel than the rest of the country as well.
Colorado had the lowest average energy bills in the country at $301 for July, followed by Washington state, Montana, Rhode Island, and Nebraska all at $312 or less.
Energy bills: Solar is becoming more affordable, but energy efficiency is still a better deal
Even if you’re living in a state with a high average monthly energy bill, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Since most people run up their bills with heating and cooling, installing better insulation and double-paned windows goes a long way to avoid wasting energy and can easily pay for itself in a few months. Turning the thermostat up a few degrees (or down in the winter) can also cut a lot off the monthly bill without sacrificing much comfort.
Energy efficient electronics, energy saving lightbulbs, and a number of other seemingly small changes can add up quickly at the end of the month. If you can afford the upfront costs you can also consider getting some of your energy off the grid.
“If your electricity bills are more than $100/month, you can install solar panels for no money down and have your total energy bills go down. It still makes sense to do efficiency first, because it’s the cheapest thing to do, but solar is now quite cost effective for homeowners,” says Stanford University research fellow Jonathan Koomey.