Today in Energy

April 19, 2011

Residential energy survey provides greater detail on many more States

map of residential energy survey, as described in the article text

An expanded survey of households has allowed EIA to release detailed information on 16 States as well as national and regional data. The new information from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) provides insights on physical characteristics, fuel usage patterns, behavior, and energy-using equipment in households.

EIA has conducted the RECS since 1978 to provide data on home energy characteristics, end uses of energy, and expenses for the four Census Regions and nine Census Divisions. Previously, EIA produced State-level data for the four most populous States: California, New York, Texas, and Florida. Now, each Census Region and Division contains at least one State for which EIA will be able to produce new energy usage statistics.

In the 2009 cycle, information was collected from over 12,000 households, up from about 4,400 when the survey was last conducted in 2005. The expanded State data series allows more accurate cross-State comparisons of key characteristics that affect home energy use.

For example:

  • About 70% of households in California use energy-efficient light bulbs, compared to 47% of households in Pennsylvania.
  • Almost half (48%) of households in Wisconsin use separate freezers, but only 14% of households in Massachusetts do the same.
  • About 12% of households in Tennessee use front-loading clothes washers in their home, half as many households as in neighboring Virginia (24%). Front-loading clothes washers use much less water and energy than traditional, top-loading models.

Future releases of data from the 2009 RECS will include end-use-specific consumption and expenditures tabulated by State, in addition to Census Regions and Divisions, climate regions, housing unit type, and other characteristics.