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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. Why does FPL give heating and cooling days for major areas in their service territory?

  2. What happened, can you check again and tell me what I did wrong?

  3. I wrote several letters to FPL department concerning my electricity bills that keep coming higher and higher every month, I do not know what to do in this situation. I manage it in a way to keep it low by making sure to turn off things that I am using, reduce to turn on AC/ Heat and others , my bill is still high. Would FPL department have special TECHNICIAN (S) who can come and check to see if I do have a problem in the installation. I will greatly appreciate it.
    Best Regards,
    Emma Gustin.

  4. Article on lowering A/C very helpful. We do have a heater & will put FAN Switch on AUTO. Selecting 68 on Thermostat and fan switch should help. Thank you.

  5. I don’t use A/C.!!! not heat.!!!! Why I most pay a high bill.???? $ 41.02 is to high for me.!!!!! With whom can I get help.!!!!

  6. Si mi aire A/C., lleva 3 meses desconectado; si no tengo calentador de mi vivienda; si mi cocina no se usa desde hace mas de un ” year “; por que, mi Bill se mantien igual.???? Solo utilizo power en el uso de mi computadora, unas cuatro horas diarias y en mi TV., alrededor de 6 horas diarias; a que se debe tan elevado pago por consumo de electricidad.!!!!! Les agradecere una respuesta sincera y convincente. Thanks for your time. Best Ragardas. yo. Ah., la iluminacion a traves de bombillas de alta eficiencia y se utiliza en muy pocas ocasiuones.!!!!

  7. What is the cost to run a 1500 watt space heater for three hours
    conpaired to running my A/C for three hours ?

    • 1500 watt heater times 3 hours = 4500 watts or 4.5 kilowatts used. Check your bill, but at my rates of $0.10 per kilowatt … that would be 4.5 times .1 = 45 cents assuming it runs continuously and doesn’t cycle on a thermostat.

      As for running your A/C for three hours, you didnt give enough information… would need to know the wattage rate for it just as you gave for the heater. Math is the same, once you find that information out. Again, and even more likely, your A/C will not run continuously for three hours though .. it should be cycling on and off .. so you would also need to find out the actual time its running to be accurate.

  8. I wonder if you can help me read and know about making an intelligent choice as to installing Solar Panels on my house. What are the pros and cons, what are the government/industry provided incentives as well as restrictions and most of all a few good (honest and reasonable cost) vendors that you might have approved and could recommend to me.

    Iqbal Chaudhry
    Wellington FL

  9. my daughter is on a breathing machine that goes about 12 or more hours.Is there a way to save? what happens if we have an outage from a storm etc.

  10. I have a home in NY and Con Edison gave me and installed a new thermostat that can be controlled through the internet and your phone to regulate the temperature. Con Ed is also able to regulate it in case of an emergency or threat of outage. Do you offer the same service to your customers?
    Thank you for your attention.


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