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Today in Energy

December 5, 2016

Thanksgiving holiday causes unique electricity usage patterns across the country

graph of U.S. lower 48 electricity demand by week, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA-930, U.S. Electric System Operating Data
Note: Days based on Eastern Standard Time.

In terms of electricity usage, Thanksgiving Day is one of the most unusual days of the year. Typically at this time of year, electric loads in most regions have a small peak in the morning and a larger peak in the evening. On Thanksgiving, however, the largest peak of the day occurs closer to midday as many Americans gather to celebrate the holiday. The day after Thanksgiving is also unusual because it tends to follow electricity usage patterns typical to weekends.

During the fall and winter seasons, most regions of the United States experience a smaller morning peak as people wake up and prepare for the day and a higher evening peak when people come home from work, warm up their homes, and cook or do household chores. Many commercial buildings are still open and consuming electricity in the evening, so peak electricity usage often occurs around 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The unique electricity usage pattern seen on Thanksgiving Day reflects the holiday’s popular activities. Not only are many commercial buildings and offices closed on Thanksgiving, lowering the overall level of electricity demand, but many households are partaking in holiday festivities including using ovens and other electric cooking equipment to prepare holiday feasts, leading to a particularly high morning-to-midday spike in electricity usage in most regions.

graph of U.S. regional hourly electricity demand by week, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA-930, U.S. Electric System Operating Data
Note: Days based on Eastern Standard Time.

Regional patterns in hourly electricity use are available through EIA’s U.S. Electric System Operating Data page, which publishes near real-time information from all of the electric system balancing authorities across the Lower 48 states.

Principal contributor: April Lee