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Today in Energy

May 17, 2021

Despite more people staying at home, U.S. residential energy use fell 4% in 2020

U.S. residential sector energy consumption annual values
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review
Note: Consumption in this chart includes primary energy consumption plus electricity retail sales consumed by the residential sector. Consumption excludes the associated electrical system energy losses from the electric power sector.

Despite many people spending more time in their homes during 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. energy consumption in the residential sector fell 4% between 2019 and 2020, according to our Monthly Energy Review. Relatively warmer weather during the winter months in 2020 significantly reduced U.S. home energy consumption for space heating compared with 2019, which was enough to offset a 2% increase in residential electricity retail sales.

During the first three months of 2020, the weather was relatively warmer than average in the United States and had 15% fewer heating degree days (HDDs) on average. Because of this warm weather, residential energy consumption of several heating fuels was lower.

Relative to the first three months of 2019, residential consumption of natural gas fell by 15%, petroleum by 17%, and wood by 15% in the first three months of 2020. Space heating and water heating are usually the most energy-intensive uses in the average U.S. home, and they account for about two-thirds of U.S. home energy use, according to our survey of residential energy consumption.

U.S. residential electricity consumption increased slightly in 2020 as states began to announce stay-at-home guidance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as restrictions eased, many people in the United States continued to work or attend school from home, were placed on unpaid leave, or laid off from work.

Temperatures in the United States remained relatively warm for the rest of 2020, which increased electricity consumption for home air conditioning in the summer. Overall, 2020 U.S. electricity sales to the residential sector increased by 2% compared with 2019.

annual change in residential energy consumption
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Energy Review

Principal contributor: Mickey Francis