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Press Room


March 30, 2022

EIA data show that by 2020, U.S. households had more efficient lighting, larger TVs, and more refrigerators

U.S. households have been changing the types and number of electricity consuming devices used in homes, according to the latest data released from the 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). The latest release presents measures of how homes used traditional devices such as lights and dishwashers in 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the first time, it also includes data on smart home devices and electric vehicles.

“Our most recent RECS data give an amazing insight into how and where energy was used in the typical U.S. household in 2020,” said EIA Acting Administrator Steve Nalley. “Looking at the 2020 RECS data in comparison to earlier surveys shows changes in what devices we used, what energy sources powered those devices, and even how we turned those devices on and controlled them.”

Notable takeaways from the RECS analysis of the estimated 123.5 million homes in the United States include:

  • The share of U.S. households that reported challenges in paying energy bills was 27% in 2020, down from 31% in the 2015 RECS. Of the 25 million households that reported reducing or forgoing basic necessities to pay energy bills, 7 million households reported having to do so every month.
  • More than three-quarters of electric vehicle owners reported that they charged their electric vehicle at their homes.
  • Nearly half of U.S. households used LED lighting in 2020 for all or most of their indoor lighting, which was up from 4% of households in 2015.
  • About 40 million households had smart speakers in 2020, nearly 18 million of which were used to control at least one setting in the home—whether lighting, temperature, or security.
  • Televisions continued to grow in size; 72% of households reported that their most-used television was 40 inches or greater, up from 58% in 2015. More than 60% of households had an LED television as their most-used TV, up from one-third in 2015.
  • The percentage of homes with more than one refrigerator grew from 30% in 2015 to 34% in 2020. The percentage of households using a dishwasher four or more times per week increased from 21% in 2015 to 26% in 2020.

The 2020 RECS characteristics data were collected in late 2020 and early 2021, a time when many households were spending more time at home than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the survey, more than 36 million households (29%) had at least one person working from home at least one day a week, and 27.5 million (22%) of those households had someone working from home five days per week. Despite people spending more time at home, though, residential energy use declined by 4% in 2020 from the previous year. The warmer winter months in 2020 reduced heating demand, which typically accounts for about 40% of energy use in homes.

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

EIA will publish a second round of RECS data later this spring with preliminary estimates for space heating, air conditioning, water heating, and fuels used, in addition to the public microdata file for housing characteristics. For the first time in the history of the RECS program, this data release will also include information at the state level for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Preliminary estimates of energy consumption and expenditures for electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and propane will be released in spring 2023.

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 press release therefore should not be construed as representing those of the U.S. Department of Energy or other federal agencies.

EIA Press Contact: Chris Higginbotham, EIAMedia@eia.gov