U.S. home heating is fractured in surprising ways: Look up your neighborhood

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

Until recently, you might not have focused much on whether you need gas, oil or electricity to warm your house. But in America’s highly fractured energy landscape, the surprising ways our home heating is split could speed — or slow — our shift away from fossil fuels.

There are four main ways that Americans heat their homes: electricity, natural gas, propane or fuel oil. The vast majority of U.S.homes, nearly 90 percent, get their warmth from either electricity — in the form of old, inefficient electric resistance heaters or new, more efficient heat pumps — or from natural gas that is piped into homes and burnedin a natural gas furnace. The remaining homes use propane — a fossil fuel created by natural gas processing or oil refining — or fuel oil, both of which need to be delivered to homes by truck.

Butthese fuels are not evenly distributed across the entire country.

Thanks to a combination of local climates, electricity prices and historical accident, America’s home heating system, like the country’s politics, is deeply divided. In the South, thanks to government funding from almost a century ago and mild climates, many rely on electricity to stay warm. The Midwest is dominated by natural gas and, in rural areas, propane. In the Northeast, despite high prices andinconvenience, fuel oil still heats many homes.

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