EIA: U.S. Households Use Less Energy, More Electronics

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported this week that while household energy consumption has been on a steady decline, household appliances, electronics, water heating and lighting now accounts for the majority of the electricity used in homes. Here are the details.

* According to the EIA, for years, space heating and cooling accounted for more than half of all residential energy consumption. However, recent estimates show that on 48 percent of household energy consumption is caused by heating and cooling, down from 58 percent in the early 1990s.

* However, in the past 20 years, non-weather related energy use for appliances, electronics, water heating and lighting has gone from a 42 percent share of household consumption to a 52 percent share.

* As reported in 2012, increasing house size and electronics use has been offset by improvements in efficiency for space heating, air conditioning and major appliances.

The EIA reported that home sizes since 1990 are on average 27 percent larger than homes built in earlier decades. This places a larger burden on heating and cooling equipment, lighting, and means a higher likelihood that more than one refrigerator is in use.

* Fifty-two percent of homes build in the 2000s have higher than the standard eight-foot ceilings, the EIA stated. The average size of a home built in the 2000s is 2,465 square feet, compared to the less than 1,800 square feet homes that were considered average in the 1970s and 1980s.

* The 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey found a 36 percent increase in the number of housing units using energy efficient multi-paned windows since 1993. About 80 percent of homes build since 2000 contain double- or triple-pane energy-efficient windows.

* Other efficiency improvements that householders report making include caulking or weather-stripping, adding insulation, and using at least some energy-efficient lighting.

* Energy expenditures vary by region, the EIA noted. The average energy expenditure for a New Jersey household, according to the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, was $3,065, while in California, it was $1,423. The difference was mainly due to a higher demand for heating in New Jersey.

* The EIA also reported this week that electricity and natural gas now account for equal amounts of energy consumed in U.S. households, once again due to flat natural gas consumption and increased electricity from appliances.

* In 1993, the EIA stated, only 22 percent of households had three or more televisions and fewer than 45 percent used central air-conditioning. In 2009, nearly half of all homes contained three or more televisions and more than 60 percent used central air conditioning.

* According to the EIA , 80 percent of residential energy is consumed in single-family homes, while 15 percent is consumed in apartments and 5 percent is consumed in mobile homes.

* As of 2009, more than half of single-family homes used natural gas for heating. In apartments, that number dropped to 42 percent, roughly equal to the amount who used electricity for heating. In mobile homes, 57 percent used electricity for heating, compared to 20 percent using natural gas.

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