Your own heating bills may give you a clue that Massachusetts total household energy costs are above the U.S. average. The data indicates that the average household in Massachusetts spends $2,500 for energy each year. But, the hope is that our costs may drop closer to the U.S. average as Massachusetts continues to implement progressive clean energy policies ─ related, for example, to energy efficiency improvements designed mitigate demand.
Massachusetts households use 22 percent more energy than the U.S. average, still slightly less than the six state New England region average. Not surprisingly, the region’s higher than average energy use is driven primarily by cooler weather, which pushes up heating costs. Massachusetts heating degree days (HDD, the
demand for energy to heat a building) ─ blue bars ─ are greater and cooling degree days (CDD, the energy used to cool a home or business) ─ green lines ─ are less than the rest of the country.
In contrast to much of the rest of the country, New England’s cooler weather makes space heating the largest portion of household energy use (59%), while air conditioning makes up 1 percent of usage. This might not surprise you, but the numbers are pretty stark.
Since the oil shocks in the 70’s, Massachusetts has seen a steady shift to heating with natural gas in a majority of
households from a greater reliance on heating oil in the past. Two factors have driven this: prices for heating oil havebeen especially volatile over the past decade, while the development of shale gas has helped lower natural gas prices over the same period. Also, some residents have switched fuels for environmental reasons; natural gas is cleaner, emitting less greenhouse gas. Still, in the upper New England states, heating oil remains the primary heating fuel. Lack of infrastructure (Maine, Vermont, and parts of New Hampshire) means less access to natural gas supplies. These states are looking into ways to bring in more natural gas to offer their residents a choice of heating fuel.
To help off-set higher heating costs, consumers and business can take advantage of the energy efficiency programs offered through Mass Save. Winterizing your home before the season can also help; things like caulking windows and doors to eliminate drafts, annual heating system clean and tune ups, and changing system air filters can all help make heating your home more efficient. For more information on home heating tips and assistance, please visit our Home Heating Assistance website
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