A study of average annual electric rates by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that West Virginians paid the sixth-lowest residential electric rates in the country for 2013, the Public Service Commission reports.

In fact, West Virginians paid less for electricity than residents in any of our surrounding states.

The average 2013 retail price of electricity in West Virginia was 9.52 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 13.24 cents in Maryland, 12.82 cents in Pennsylvania, 11.91 cents in Ohio, 10.83 cents in Virginia and 9.71 cents in Kentucky.

The only states where residential customers paid less for electricity in 2013 were Arkansas, Idaho, Louisiana, North Dakota and Washington, all which ranged between 8.67 and 9.51 cents per kilowatt hour.

 On the other end of the scale in the continental United States, New York residential customers paid 18.84 cents per kilowatt hour, followed by Connecticut, Vermont, California and New Hampshire, with average rates in excess of 16.00 cents for 2013.

In West Virginia, a typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month received an average electric bill of $95.20 in 2013, whereas a customer in the five continental U.S. states with the highest rates paid from $163.60 to $188.40 per month in 2013, using the same amount of electricity.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, Heating and cooling account for about 56 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes.

For optimal energy efficiency when heating or cooling, the agency recommends that your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to its foundation. In addition to insulation, consider moisture and air leakage control in each area of your house.

The EIA is the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. The agency collects, analyzes and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment. Full results of the study are available at: www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly.

For more information on government energy initiatives, visit www.energy.gov.

— E-mail: cboyd@register-herald.com

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