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Use of energy explained Energy use in homes

Electricity consumption in U.S. homes varies by region and type of home

The average U.S. household consumes about 11,000 kilowatthours (kWh) per year.1 However, electricity use in homes varies across regions of the United States and across housing types. On average, apartments in the Northeast consume the least amount of electricity annually, while single-family detached homes in the South consume the most. Homes in the South are more likely to have electric heating and use more air conditioning.

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Unlike natural gas, petroleum fuels, and wood, which are needed for only a handful of uses such as heating and cooking, electricity can power those and well over 100 other energy end uses for households.

  • The three largest categories and their shares of residential electricity consumption in 2015 were
  • air conditioning17%
  • space heating15%
  • water heating14%

Lighting and refrigerators are used in nearly every home, and they are the next largest electricity end uses. The shares of annual electricity end uses can change from year to year based on the weather.

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Air conditioning use is now common in most homes

Because of both population shifts to warmer climates and the availability of air conditioning in almost all new homes, air conditioning has been one of the fastest growing energy uses in homes. In 2015, about 87% of homes used air conditioning compared to 57% of homes using air conditioning in 1980. The percentage of homes with central air conditioning has more than doubled since 1980 when 27% of homes had central air conditioning systems compared to 64% in 2015.

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The share of U.S. homes with central air-conditioning systems inceased from 27% of homes in 1980 to 64% in 2015.

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Most homes have refrigerators and many have more than one

Nearly all homes—99%—have a refrigerator, and 30% have two or more. Second refrigerators and separate freezers are most common in Midwest homes, where, in 2015, 34% of homes had a second refrigerator and 39% had a separate freezer compared with 30% and 32%, respectively, for all U.S. homes. The most-used refrigerator in a home costs $81 per year to operate on average, while the second refrigerator has an average annual operating cost of $61. Second refrigerators are often smaller than the home’s most-used refrigerator, and they may not be in use the entire year—17% of homes with a second refrigerator reported that it was in use six months or less in 2015. Separate freezers cost $69 per year to operate on average.

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1 Excludes losses in electricity generation and delivery.

Last updated: May 9, 2019