United States households on average consumed less energy in 2020 than in 2009, according to newly released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) "Residential Energy Consumption Survey" (RECS).
RECS data show that households used an average of 76.8 million British thermal units (MMBtu) of energy, including electricity, natural gas, propane and fuel oil. That consumption is relatively consistent with the 2015 RECS estimate but is a significant decrease from the 89.6 MMBtu used by households in 2009.
For the first time, EIA has gathered energy use data for households in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This new data series from the 2020 RECS includes consumption and expenditures for electricity, natural gas and petroleum fuels used in homes. The uses of each fuel vary considerably across states. In Florida, for example, electricity accounts for 94% of household energy use. In Illinois, where natural gas is widely used, electricity accounts for just 29%.
“Our new, more geographically detailed state-level data highlights how household energy use varies across the country,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis. “The ability to quantify and categorize differences among states adds an amazing new level of depth in our RECS data.”
Notable takeaways from the 2020 RECS results for the estimated 123.5 million homes in the U.S. include:
- U.S. households spent an average of $1,884 on energy in 2020.
- In 2020, households in places where the climate required more heating consumed more energy on average. For example, households in Alaska used an average of 125.1 MMBtu of energy.
- In Hawaii, where only 57% of households use air conditioning and 5% use space heating equipment, households used 30.3 MMBtu of energy on average — the lowest consumption per household in the U.S.
- At the national level, households use similar shares of electricity and natural gas (47% and 45% of total consumption), but those shares vary widely across states.
- Households in the South used the most electricity, 13,376 kilowatthours (kWh) on average in 2020. Southern homes are more likely to have air conditioning and to use electricity for heating than other regions.
- Newer homes consumed less energy per square foot than older homes in 2020. Households living in homes built before 1950 used 51.3 thousand British thermal units (MBtu) per square foot, compared with 31.2 MBtu per square foot for homes built in 2016 or later. This difference in energy use translates to higher costs per square foot as well: $1.14 per square foot for homes built before 1950 compared with $0.82 per square foot for homes built in 2016 or later.
- Consumption of natural gas varied by housing unit type. Households living in single-family detached homes, which tend to have more square footage, used an average of 669 hundred cubic feet of natural gas annually, compared with households living in apartment units in buildings with five or more units, which used an average of 224 hundred cubic feet.
- Household expenditures on fuel oil were highest in the Northeast. In Connecticut, fuel oil accounts for 20% of all residential energy expenditures in the state.
EIA collected the 2020 RECS characteristics data in late 2020 and early 2021, when many households were spending more time at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, electricity usage in the 2020 RECS was not significantly different from household electricity usage in the 2015 RECS. In 2020, households consumed 10,566 kWh of electricity on average, compared with 10,720 kWh in 2015.
You can find all available data from the RECS household characteristics and energy usage indicators on the EIA website.
EIA previously released RECS data on housing characteristics and square footage. This release focuses on household consumption and expenditures data. The next release, which focuses on household end-use estimates, such as energy used for air conditioning and lighting, will be released later this spring.