Thursday, January 31, 2019

Power Use in the American Home

Americans use a lot of energy in their homes, in businesses, and in industry. Between natural gas, heating oil, propane, electricity and other sources the American home uses about 20% of all energy used in the United States. Most energy use is for heating followed by electric use as broken down tin the pie chart above. Below you can see that the total energy used in the housing sector has decreased falling below even as the number of homes has grown. The nation’s 118 million households consumed 77 million Btu on average in 2015.

In the last survey by the Department of Energy (2015) only about 25% of homes in the United States relied exclusively on electricity for power, heating and cooking. This was up from the last survey, but still the vast majority of homes still use another source of energy for heating in most cases that is natural gas. In the Northeast natural gas and heating oil are both widely used to heat homes. In the rapidly growing south, heat pumps that run on electricity are a popular option. In the coldest climates electric heat pumps are neither cost effective nor practical. Natural gas is still the least expensive widely used method to heat a home in a cold climate.

The breakdown of the energy use in homes is changing. Air conditioning has become a much larger share of energy use in the past decade or so. In the last survey by the Department of Energy they found that 87% of homes use air conditioning having at least one portable unit. Most newer homes have central air conditioning.

In addition, the Department of Energy found that 90% of homes had at least one desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone, and 79% have more than one. Although U.S. homes have an increasing number of computers, the number of televisions per home is declining. In 2015, homes had an average of 2.3 televisions, down from an average of 2.6 televisions per home in 2009. More than twice as many households reported not using a television in 2015 compared to 2009. It seems that Americans are viewing entertainment on their phones, tablets and computers instead.

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