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Monday, March 28, 2011

Homes have more energy-efficient appliances, but the efficiency gains are partly offset by more consumer electronics

While most home appliances have become more efficient over the past 30 years, the average U.S. household uses many more consumer electronics — in particular, personal computers, televisions and related devices, according to data released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in the latest update to its Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

Notable trends in household energy characteristics include:

  • 58 percent of U.S. homes had energy-efficient, multi-pane windows, up from 36 percent in the 1993 survey
  • 76 percent of the 114 million U.S. homes had at least one computer, eight percentage points more than just four years prior; 35 percent had multiple computers
  • 68 million homes have energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) lights
  • 44 percent of all U.S. homes had three or more televisions. Screen size and average energy consumption per television continue to grow

This new information on the ways energy is used in American homes is the first release of 2009 data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), which EIA has conducted periodically since 1979. 

Historically, EIA has reported household energy data for the United States, Census Regions and Divisions, and the four most populous States: California, Texas, New York, and Florida. By tripling the number of households contacted in the 2009 RECS, EIA has expanded the household data series to include twelve more States: Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey, Virginia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Arizona, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

The larger RECS supports new energy-use comparisons between States:

  • Almost half (48 percent) of households in Wisconsin use separate freezers, but only 14 percent of households in Massachusetts do the same
  • Twelve percent of households in Tennessee use front-loading clothes washers in their home, half as many households as in neighboring Virginia (24 percent). Front-loading clothes washers use much less water and energy than traditional, top-loading models.

The initial RECS 2009 household energy characteristics data can be found at:


EIA will release additional information on home energy characteristics from the RECS 2009 in the coming weeks.  Related statistics on energy consumption and expenditures for the same households will be released next year.

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 United States Government. The views in the product and press release therefore should not be construed as representing those of the Department of Energy or other Federal agencies.

EIA Program Contact: James Berry, 202-586-5543, James.Berry@eia.gov

EIA Press Contact: Jonathan Cogan, 202-586-8719, Jonathan.Cogan@eia.gov