US Cities With the Highest Electric Bills in 2021

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Thermostat

Summer brings with it two certainties: rising temperatures and rising electric bills.

In 2020, renters and homeowners spent more time in their residences amid pandemic closures and companies shifting to work-from-home models. Homes and apartments that were previously dormant during work hours were suddenly filled with people working and kids attending online school.

Amid this new reality, heat waves blanketed the country, causing a spike in energy use as Americans tried to keep their homes cool. Energy bills shot up and, for some, the higher bills were simply too expensive. Lawmakers did their best to curb the crisis by implementing moratoriums on utility shut-offs.

These heat waves weren’t an aberration, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. In fact, the number of deadly heat waves that swept the nation tripled from the 1960s to the 2010s, and they’re expected to continue.

For the average electricity customer, that means that rates are likely to rise as demand rises, and bills are bound to go up. According to the Census Bureau, electricity already accounts for nearly 60% of residential utility bills and more than 12% of total housing costs for owner-occupied households.

And if the past two decades are any indication — rates have increased 70% — the future looks to be an expensive one.

Highly seasonal residential electricity rates have been increasing

While the data is clear that electricity prices are on the rise, some states are feeling the increase far more than others.

Hawaiians paid the highest rates at an average of 30.32 cents per kWh in 2020, which is more than 30% higher than Alaskans, whose electricity rates are the second most expensive in the nation.

The next three states with the highest rates are in New England: Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Conversely, Oklahoma, Washington, and Louisiana are the only three states in the country with residential electricity rates below 10 cents per kWh.

Electricity rates are highest in Hawaii, Alaska, California, and the Northeast

Knowing a state’s energy prices is just part of understanding the economics of electricity for its residents.

A state with expensive electricity rates doesn’t necessarily have the highest median electricity bills, which are a function of both energy prices and consumption. For example, Hawaii’s electricity costs more than any other state, but the median electric bill of $140 ranks 26th.

According to data from the Census Bureau, residents in the South report the highest median electricity bills, with Alabama residents topping the list at $200 per month.

Alabamans are paying not just more than any other state on a monthly basis, but their electricity bills make up 75.5% of their utility bill and 26.6% of their housing costs, both the highest in the nation.

Other states with median electricity bills topping $160 per month include Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Residents in the South have the highest electric bills

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To determine the metropolitan areas with the largest electric bills, researchers at Commodity.com analyzed Census Bureau data and calculated the median monthly electricity costs for owner-occupied, non-farm households. This data represents what residents pay in total for electricity on a monthly basis — a function of both electricity rates and electricity use.

In the event of a tie, the location with the higher median total utility costs — including gas, water, and other fuels — was ranked higher. Researchers also calculated median total housing costs, as well as the proportion of total housing and utility costs that electric bills account for.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size:

  • Large: 1 million or more
  • Midsize: 350,000–999,999
  • Small: 100,000–349,999

Here are the metros with the highest electric bills.

Small and midsize metros with the highest electric bills

Large Metros With the Highest Electric Bills

Atlanta at Night

15. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $150
  • Median total utility costs: $253
  • Median total housing costs: $1,278
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 59.4%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 11.7%
Virginia Beach

14. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $150
  • Median total utility costs: $262
  • Median total housing costs: $1,407
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 57.3%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 10.7%
Philadelphia in Fall

13. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $150
  • Median total utility costs: $273
  • Median total housing costs: $1,417
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 54.9%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 10.6%

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Kansas City at Night

12. Kansas City, MO-KS

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $150
  • Median total utility costs: $280
  • Median total housing costs: $1,153
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 53.6%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 13.0%
New York Park

11. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $150
  • Median total utility costs: $300
  • Median total housing costs: $2,093
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 50.0%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 7.2%
Baltimore

10. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $160
  • Median total utility costs: $240
  • Median total housing costs: $1,547
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 66.7%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 10.3%
Phoenix at Dusk

9. Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $160
  • Median total utility costs: $242
  • Median total housing costs: $1,178
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 66.2%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 13.6%
Richmond Night

8. Richmond, VA

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $160
  • Median total utility costs: $250
  • Median total housing costs: $1,234
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 64.0%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 13.0%
San Antonio at Night

7. San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $170
  • Median total utility costs: $228
  • Median total housing costs: $1,075
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 74.5%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 15.8%
Houston at Night

6. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $170
  • Median total utility costs: $257
  • Median total housing costs: $1,315
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 66.2%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 12.9%
Dallas Building With Texas Flag

5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $170
  • Median total utility costs: $278
  • Median total housing costs: $1,417
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 61.1%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 12.0%
Orlando

4. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $180
  • Median total utility costs: $225
  • Median total housing costs: $1,170
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 80.0%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 15.4%
Jacksonville

3. Jacksonville, FL

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $180
  • Median total utility costs: $228
  • Median total housing costs: $1,162
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 78.8%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 15.5%
Memphis

2. Memphis, TN-MS-AR

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $200
  • Median total utility costs: $252
  • Median total housing costs: $989
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 79.5%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 20.2%

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Birmingham

1. Birmingham-Hoover, AL

  • Median monthly electricity costs: $200
  • Median total utility costs: $290
  • Median total housing costs: $926
  • Electricity as a share of total utility costs: 69.0%
  • Electricity as a share of total housing costs: 21.6%

Detailed Findings & Methodology

The data used in this analysis is from the United States Census Bureau’s American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample.

To determine the locations with the highest electric bills, researchers calculated the median monthly electricity costs for owner-occupied, non-farm households. In the event of a tie, the location with the higher median total utility costs — including gas, water, and other fuels — was ranked higher.

To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 residents were included. Additionally, metros were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).

Photo Credits: Alamy Stock Photo

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