FEBRUARY FREEZE PUSHED HOME HEATING COSTS UP

FEBRUARY FREEZE PUSHED HOME HEATING COSTS UP

Americans spent $8.3 billion keeping warm in February, $340 million more than normal for the month, the federal government estimated Wednesday.

February was colder than the long-term average for the month, pushing up bills for oil, natural gas and electricity used to heat homes across most of the nation, according to the monthly report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.Heating bills were above normal for the month in every region except New England and the Mountain and Pacific coast states, the study reported.

On average, American homeowners spent $115.72 for heat during the month, $4.73 more than would have been expected with normal February weather.

Here is a regional rundown of the average cost of residential heating in February, and the comparison to what would have been expected in normal February weather.

* Middle Atlantic: $159.52, $2.38 more than normal. Includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

* East North Central: $140.87, $13.14 more than normal. Includes Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

* New England: $136.58, $1.22 below normal. Includes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

* West North Central: $126.42, $13.21 above normal. Includes North Dakota, South Dakota,Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

* East South Central: $123.68, $10.53 more than normal. Includes Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama.

* South Atlantic: $103.54, $5.31 more than normal. Includes Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

* Mountain: $97.14, $2.86 below normal. Includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

* West South Central: $76.71, $5.48 above normal. Includes Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana.

* Pacific: $58.09, $5.71 below normal. Includes Washington, Oregon and California.

The monthly study of energy costs does not include Alaska and Hawaii.