Space heating consumed the most energy of any end use in homes, according to latest data

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Washington – RealEstateRama – Space heating continued to be the top energy-consuming end use in U.S. homes in 2020 according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). Heating homes accounted for 42% of energy consumption in the residential sector. Space heating in U.S. households cost $519 on average. Energy consumption and expenditures varied across the country, depending on the climate and energy source used.

“For the first time, RECS estimates allow us to compare household end uses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” said EIA Administrator Joe DeCarolis. “We now have the opportunity to compare household energy uses from state to state.”

Households in New Hampshire, one of the coldest states in the United States, spent an average of $981 on space heating. Fuel oil is the most common primary heating fuel used in New Hampshire households (40%). In Louisiana, one of the warmest states, households spent just $244 on average to heat their homes. Electricity is used more than any other fuel as the primary heating source for households in that state (62%).

Additional takeaways from the 2020 RECS energy end-use consumption and expenditures results include:

  • In the Midwest, 70% of households used natural gas as their primary heating fuel, but natural gas consumption varied across states in that region. Households in Michigan, for example, were among the highest natural gas consumers for space heating with an average use of 72.7 million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2020. During the same time period, households in Kansas used an average of only 50.9 MMBtu.
  • Households that used fuel oil or kerosene as their primary space-heating fuel spent an average of $1,164 on space heating in 2020. These households spent more on space heating than homes that used propane ($1,010), natural gas ($519), or electricity ($396) as their primary space-heating fuel. Fuel oil is most likely to be used by households in cold climates that have high heating demand, leading to higher bills for those households.
  • Air conditioning accounted for 9% of total site energy across all U.S. households, but that percentage varied widely across states; for example, air conditioning accounted for 28% of total site energy usage in Florida but just 2% in Maine.
  • Households spent an average of $91 on lighting in 2020, compared with $147 in the 2015 RECS. Households consumed an average of 654 kilowatthours (kWh) in 2020, down from the estimate of 1,105 kWh reported in 2015. Households used more light-emitting diode (LED) lightbulbs in 2020 than in 2015. In 2020, 47% of households reported that they used LED bulbs for all or most of their indoor lighting, compared with only 4% of households in 2015.
  • Households with one member spent an average of $96 on refrigeration in 2020, compared with households with four members, which spent an average of $128 on refrigeration. Only 16% of households with one member had two or more refrigerators compared with 44% of households with four members.
  • Electricity consumption for refrigeration varied by state. At the lower end, households in Washington, DC, consumed an average of 610 kWh for refrigeration, whereas on the higher end, households in Georgia consumed an average of 928 kWh for refrigeration annually. In addition, households in Georgia were more likely to report having a second refrigerator (37%) than households in DC (15%).
  • On average, primary TVs used about twice as much electricity (210 kWh per home) as second-most-used TVs (106 kWh per home).

EIA collected the 2020 RECS characteristics data in late 2020 and early 2021, when many households were spending more time at home because 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. Mostly minor impacts on individual end-use estimates were captured in responses to usage questions and in household energy bills.

You can find all available data from the RECS household characteristics and energy usage indicators on EIA’s website.

EIA previously released RECS data on housing characteristics, square footage, and consumption and expenditures. This release focuses on household end-use estimates, such as energy used for air conditioning and lighting.

The product described in this press release was prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy. By law, EIA’s data, analysis, and forecasts are independent of approval by any other officer or employee of the U.S. government. The views in the product and this press release therefore should not be construed as representing those of the U.S. Department of Energy or other federal agencies.

EIA Press Contact: Morgan Butterfield, 

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