Household Energy Consumption Statistics

Household Energy Consumption Statistics

For even the most eco-conscious American consumer, keeping track of your daily electricity consumption can be difficult. But the U.S. is one of the biggest consumers of energy globally, and the residential sector accounts for a whopping 96% of U.S. electricity sales. 

It’s crucial to monitor your use of energy and where it comes from. Even the smallest swaps can make a difference for your wallet and the planet. Energy-efficient appliances, like Energy Star light bulbs, for instance, use up to 90% less energy than their traditional counterparts

Read on for a breakdown on household energy consumption in the U.S. today.

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. is one of the largest energy consumers and residential electricity consumers per capita nationwide.
  • Electricity and natural gas are the most common sources of energy usage in the average U.S. home.
  • In general, larger homes in the South consume the most energy (as they typically use electric heat and central AC), while smaller homes in the Northeast consume the least energy.
  • Air conditioners are the appliance that typically uses the most energy in U.S. homes.

General U.S. Household Energy Consumption Statistics

  • As of 2021, the average annual electricity consumption for an American household was 10,632 kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average monthly use was 886 kWh.
  • Many average homes in the U.S. today have central air conditioning, the appliance that typically consumes the most energy on an annual basis. 
  • Homes in the South built after 2000 are most likely to have central AC (94%) (EIA). 
  • Homes in the Northeast built before 1960 are least likely to have central AC (20%) (EIA).
  • The residential sector accounts for 96% of total U.S. electricity sales (3.79 trillion kWh of energy). This includes 120.92 million households, almost 70% of which were single-family as of 2019.
  • The U.S. is the 10th largest consumer of primary energy per capita as of 2021. With 4% of the world’s population, the U.S.’s energy consumption accounts for 16% of the total world primary energy consumption (about 604 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu)). 

Note: Primary energy indicates oil derived from a naturally-occurring source, like crude oil or wind, but not petroleum or biofuels. 

  • Residential energy consumption accounts for 22% of the U.S.’s annual primary energy consumption (20.9 quadrillion Btu) (EIA).

U.S. Household Energy Sources

  • Electricity (all-purpose, accounting for 43% of total consumption, 5.04 quadrillion Btu as of 2021) and natural gas (for space and water heating, clothes drying, and cooking, accounting for 42% of total consumption, used in 58% of homes, 4.83 quadrillion Btu as of 2021) are the most commonly used energy sources annually in U.S. homes.
  • Petroleum (including heating oil, kerosene, and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas, mostly propane)) takes third place, accounting for 8% of residential energy use (0.93 quadrillion Btu as of 2021) (EIA).
  • Renewable energy sources (i.e. geothermal, solar, wood fuels) take fourth place, accounting for 7% of residential energy consumption (0.83 quadrillion Btu as of 2021) (EIA).
  • 1.26 quadrillion Btu of coal-generated energy was used in 1950, but zero was used in 2021 (and virtually none has been used since 2007) (EIA).
  • As of 2022, 39.8% of electricity generated in the U.S. is generated using natural gas. 19.5% is generated using coal, 18.2% is generated using nuclear power, 21.5% is generated using renewable energy sources, and 0.9% i sgenerated using petroleum.
    • Wind power provides for the largest cut of that 21.5% in terms of renewables, with 10.2.% Wind is followed by hydropower with 16.3%, solar with 2.4%, biomass energy with 1.3%, and geothermal energy with 0.4%.
    • Wind power is derived from onshore or offshore wind panels; solar power is derived from solar panels or solar farms. Biomass energy comes from wood, animal manure, crops and agriculture residues, sewage, trash/garbage, and vegetable oils and animal fats that are burned in steam-electric power plants and converted into a gas that can be burned for electricity. Geothermal energy comes from the slow decay of radioactive particles from the Earth’s core (hot rocks and water from deep inside the Earth are processed through steam turbines to harvest electricity).
  • This means that fossil fuels provide for the majority of electricity generation and therefore all energy consumed in the residential sector in the U.S. Fossil fuel energy sources include natural gas, coal, and petroleum.
    • However, the use of petroleum has slowed significantly in recent years, with just 40 billion kilowatt-hours used in 2022 (compared to 365 billion kilowatt hours in 1978, during the petroleum spike of the 1970s and 1980s) (EIA).
    • The use of coal has also dropped off significantly in recent years, from 1,966 billion kilowatt-hours in 2000 to 829 billion kilowatt-houts in 2022 (EIA).
    • Renewable energy is on the rise. In 1990, renewable resources accounted for about 12% of utility-scale electricity generation. By 2022, that percentage had grown to 22% (EIA).
    • About one-fifth of U.S. electricity is generated from nuclear power (nuclear fission is used to generate heat that powers steam turbines to produce electricity) (EIA).

States with the Highest and Lowest Energy Consumption

  • Louisiana had the highest rate of energy consumption in the U.S. as of 2021, at 14,302 kWh per average residential customer annually (EIA).
  • Hawaii had the lowest rate of energy consumption in the U.S. as of 2021, at 6,369 kWh per average residential customer annually (EIA).
  • According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), single-family detached homes in the South tend to consume the most energy, while apartments in large buildings (five units or more) in the Northeast consume the least.
  • Appliance use also varies by state. For instance, 81% of homes in Alabama have an electric cooking appliance, compared to a national average of 68%, and only 18% of homes in Alabama have a natural gas cooking appliance, compared to a national average of 38% (EIA).
    • 93% of homes in Idaho have a clothes washing machine, but only 62% of homes in New York do.
    • 42% of homes in Iowa and North Dakota have two or more refrigerators, but only 29% of homes in Vermont do.
    • 65% of homes in South Dakota have a separate freezer, but only 19% of homes in California do.
    • The climate, culture, and average age of homes in a particular state all affect which appliances are likely to be used and what type of heating and cooling system a home comes with. While in some sense, all energy consumption is created equal, it’s helpful to note which types of homes are consuming the most energy and via which appliances.

Household Energy Consumption by Appliance

  • Air conditioners are typically the consumers of the most electricity per household, accounting for an average of 17% of total household electricity usage.
    • Space heaters take second place with 15% of the total amount of electricity consumed, followed by water heaters with 14%.
    • Lighting and refrigerators come next at about 10% and 7% of the amount of energy used respectively, as both are used in nearly every home nationwide.
    • 99% of U.S. homes have refrigerators, and 33% have two or more. 32% have a separate freezer.
    • The average primary fridge costs its household $81 per year. The average secondary refrigerator costs its household $61 per year. The average separate freezer costs its household $69 per year.
    • The least-used specific appliance is typically hot tub pumps, clocking in at under 1% of total household energy consumption.
  • In 2020, nearly 90% of U.S. households used air conditioning, and 66% of that air conditioning use came from central AC.
    • As of 2020, the Midwest Census Region and the South Census Region had the greatest percentage of households with air conditioning (at 92% anf 93% respectively). The lowest percentage of households with air conditioning was in the West region, with 73%. This region includes the marine climate region along the coast of northern California, Oregon, and Washington, a notoriously small consumer of AC (49% in 2020).
      • The marine climate tends to include cool summers and mild winters, making climate control indoors less essential. This is why the marine climate region displays such a sharp dip in the use of air conditioners compared to the rest of the country.
  • Approximately 72% of U.S. households’ heating systems were older than five years old as of 2015. About 29% of household systems in the U.S. are older than 15 years old (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy).
  • 102.8 million U.S. households have air conditioning systems, and 76.1 million of those households have central AC. 33.7 million of those central AC units are at least 10 years old (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy).
    • By simply turning your thermostat down 10-15 degrees for eight hours each night, you can save 5-15% on your annual heating and cooling bills.
    • Homeowners can also save 5-30% energy bills annually by upgrading any appliances noted as outdated in a diagnostic home energy assessment.