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The U.S. Cities With the Lowest and Highest Energy Bills

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Smart + Resilient Cities

The U.S. Cities With the Lowest and Highest Energy Bills

While some metros are feeling the sting of rising energy costs as a result of climate change and backed up supply chains, others are seeing their progressive climate initiatives paying off

February 28, 2022
San Francisco skyline
Image: Stock.adobe.com

Colder winters and hotter summers in the face of worsening climate change are driving up energy costs for homeowners, and a geopolitical conflict in Eastern Europe will only worsen a supply-chain storm and rising inflation, says Realtor.com. Natural gas prices shot up 60% year-over-year in January, but not all cities feel the burden of rising energy costs equally. 

More affluent metros with green energy initiatives may be spared the tangible consequences of energy volatility, particularly in states that enforce comprehensive climate action plans. Topping the list of U.S. metros with the lowest energy burdens is San Francisco, where high-income residents spend a smaller percentage of their paychecks on utilities and a “Zero Net Energy Homes Project” seeks to reduce city-wide carbon emissions. 

With an energy burden of about 1.9%, New York is another city that has placed an emphasis on reducing its carbon footprint. The city has pledged to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, while the state set a policy goal in 2016 to make sure low-income New Yorkers pay no more than 6% of their income toward energy bills.

Despite this goal, the city estimates that more than 460,000 low-income families in New York City are still spending more than 6% of their salaries on energy bills. Low-income households and older adults have the highest median energy burdens in New York City, according to ACEEE. Broken down by borough, Queens and Brooklyn have the highest energy burdens while Staten Island and Manhattan have the lowest, according to a city analysis.

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