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Does running the heat really cost three times as much as A/C?

Does running the heat really cost three times as much as A/C?

by | Jan 4, 2016 | 182 comments

Does heating cost more than it does to run the A/C? And, what’s the best way to heat my home when it’s cold?

Asked by: Samantha S., Bradenton, FL

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Hi Samantha, those are great questions. The simple answer to your first question is yes, because heating uses more energy, it does cost more to run the heat in your home than it does to cool your home with A/C. While extreme cold weather is rare in Florida, we can always count on at least one good cold snap to drive higher energy bills, if you turn on your heat.

The heating systems in most Florida homes are not energy-efficient and can cost a lot more to operate. In fact, it can take up to three times more electricity to heat a home than to cool it, which equates to a higher bill.

Most efficient way to heat
The most efficient way to heat your home is with an electric heat pump. But, most customers don’t have a heat pump, so they rely on the heating element in their air conditioner to heat their homes.

These pumps heat more efficiently and can help you save money if you live in a colder part of the state, or if you run the heat often in the winter. In fact, those who use heat frequently could save up to $75 per year heating with a heat pump system compared to a standard A/C system.

Other tips to stay warm
The best way to stay warm and still save on your electric bill is to set the thermostat at 68 degrees or lower with the fan switch on “auto.” Then when you leave the house, turn off the heat entirely. A space heater is also an option but it is a temporary heating device and should be used on a limited basis. Please be especially careful and follow all the safety precautions. Keep the space heater at least three feet away from furniture, drapes and other combustible items.

You also can help lower your electric bills in winter by keeping the damper shut on your fireplace when it’s not being used, and opening your shades and curtains on sunny days.

During the next cold snap, you may want to wait to turn on your heat – unless you truly need to warm up your home.

Visit to learn ways to keep your home warm and your bills low this winter.

About The Author

Brad Goar

Brad Goar is the program manager for FPL's Home Energy Survey and Low Income Weatherization programs. With over 140,000 home energy surveys performed annually, FPL's Home Energy Survey is one of the largest utility run energy survey programs in the nation.


  1. Using G O Thermo unit to heat 3500 square foot home. Let’s say it is insulated well. Has 3 separate thermostats. Each thermostat set at 69 degrees. What should it cost to heat home at outside temperature being 20 degrees?

  2. Could there be some reason that my A/C is using twice as much energy as my furnace (1.23kwh/hr vs. .325kwh/hr) ? I’ve only used my A/C 2 days for a couple of hours each & my energy consumption for both days was 2kwh higher than when I would run my furnace all day in the winter. I live in an apartment & have central air/heat via a unit in my closet & the filter was recently changed. I certainly can’t afford to be using 1.5 kwh/hour all day long come summer!

  3. Is it also three times the cost in the Chicago area? We have gas heat, and window 2 air conditioners. (small home 1050 sf)

  4. Very useful Tips. This is really good stuff

  5. Is there times of the day or weekends that is cheaper to run washer dryer etc.

    • This is my question, too!

  6. I have to use an oxygen concentrater 24/7. I also have two ceiling fans that run 24/7. Please advise how much energy these two use.


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