Saturday, May 13, 2017

Evidence of a Decline in Electricity Use by U.S. Households

It has been slowing down for decades, but is electricity use by American households now going down?

Americans tend to use more and more of everything.  As incomes have risen, we buy more food, live in larger homes, travel more, spend more on health care, and, yes, use more energy. Between 1950 and 2010, U.S. residential electricity consumption per capita increased 10-fold, an annual increase of 4% per year.

(Credit: USelecSource: Constructed by Lucas Davis at UC Berkeley using residential electricity consumption from EIA, and population statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau) Click to Enlarge.
But that electricity trend has changed recently. American households use less electricity than they did five years ago.  The figure below plots U.S. residential electricity consumption per capita 1990-2015. Consumption dipped significantly in 2012 and has remained flat, even as the economy has improved considerably.

Energy-Efficient Lighting
So what is different?  Energy-efficient lighting.  Over 450 million LEDs have been installed to date in the United States, up from less than half a million in 2009, and nearly 70% of Americans have purchased at least one LED bulb.  Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) are even more common, with 70%+ of households owning some CFLs.   All told, energy-efficient lighting now accounts for 80% of all U.S. lighting sales.

It is no surprise that LEDs have become so popular.  LED prices have fallen 94% since 2008, and a 60-watt equivalent LED lightbulb can now be purchased for about $2.  LEDs use 85% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, are much more durable, and work in a wide-range of indoor and outdoor settings.

Is this really big enough to matter?  Yes!  Suppose that between LEDs and CFLs there are now one billion energy-efficient light bulbs installed in U.S. homes.  If operated 3 hours per day, this implies savings of 50 million megawatt hours per year, or 0.16 megawatt hours per capita, about the size of the decrease above.

Read more at Evidence of a Decline in Electricity Use by U.S. Households

No comments:

Post a Comment