Average Electric Bill in South Dakota

We dug into the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s data[1] to look at the average monthly electric bill for South Dakota residential households. These averages are for the full year of 2018, not any specific month of 2019, given that electricity usage & prices fluctuate month-to-month.

average monthly residential electric bill in South Dakota
*This is 3% greater than the United States national average, which is $117.65.
average residential electric rate for households in SD
*This is 9.9% less (21st lowest) than the United States national average, which is 12.87¢/kWh.
1,045 kWh
average monthly residential electricity consumption in SD
*This is 14.3% greater than the national average (914 kWh) & the 17th highest in the U.S..
South Dakota’s ranking for highest electric bill in the United States
*Relative to average monthly household income (2.69%), South Dakota has the 19th highest electric bill in the U.S..

Why Are Electric Bills in South Dakota Comparatively High?

The two factors that make up the cost of an electric bill are (1) cost and (2) consumption. Looking at each, you’ll notice that the cost of electricity in South Dakota isn’t much higher than the national average (9.9%), but the average resident’s electricity consumption is moderately higher than other states (14.3%). It gets cold in South Dakota, a state with an average temperature of 45.8 degrees, so the need for cooling cause higher consumption.

Reasons for Low Electricity Rates in South Dakota

  1. Supply – an increase in the supply of energy brings costs down. For example, weather events such as high amounts of rain or high wind speeds can temporarily increase the supply of energy where there are hydropower plants or wind turbines to take advantage, and as a result, lower electricity rates.
  2. Demand – an increase in the demand for energy causes costs to rise. This is because the use of more costly fuels, such as natural gas, help “fill in” for the rise in demand. For example, a heat wave might temporarily increase the demand for cooling and the subsequent need for fuels, and as a result, raise electricity rates.

Additional factors that impact electricity rates include state & federal regulations, global markets and even financial speculation.

Reasons for High Electricity Consumption in South Dakota

Given that electricity consumption in South Dakota is moderately higher than the national average (14.3%), it’s important to understand exactly what electricity is used for. The EIA looked at the end uses of electricity in the average American household and found the following breakdown:


“Other uses” includes small electric devices, heating elements, exterior lights, outdoor grills, pool and spa heaters, backup electricity generators, and motors not listed above. Does not include electric vehicle charging.

Tips for Lowering Electric Bill

  • Reduce space heating/cooling – given that heating & cooling make up a large part of the average electric bill, increasing energy efficiency in this area can have arguably the biggest impact on your bill. Here are some things you can do to reduce your usage in this area:
    • Use a programmable thermostat (can reduce heating/cooling by ~10%)
    • Use extra insulation
    • Dress up/down to the temperature
    • Replace your air filter more often
    • Check seals on windows/doors/appliances for openings/leaks
  • Reduce water heating – one of the next biggest portions of the average electric bill is from water heating, which can be reduced by showering at lower temperatures, taking shorter hot showers and by lowering the temperature on the water heater itself (ideally to 120 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Adjust fridge & freezer temperatures – ideally, your fridge should be at 38 degrees and your freezer at 5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where Does South Dakota Get Its Electricity From?

South Dakota uses a combination of renewable energy and fossil fuels to generate electricity, the most popular sources being natural gas, ethanol and biomass. According to the EIA, renewable sources provided 70% of South Dakota’s electricity generation–a massive increase compared to the past decade, when coal powered 52% of the state’s electricity. Other sources of electricity for South Dakota are coal, fuel oil, and hydroelectric power.

[1] Data from: https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.php#sales

Read About Electric Bills in Other States