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How much electricity is used for cooling in the United States?

In the Annual Energy Outlook 2021, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that in 2020, electricity use for cooling the interior of buildings (space cooling) by the U.S. residential and commercial sectors was about 392 billion kilowatthours (kWh), which was equal to about 10% of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2020.

The residential sector’s electricity use for cooling was about 236 billion kWh in 2020, which was equal to about 16% of total residential sector electricity consumption and 6% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings, used about 155 billion kWh for cooling in 2020, which was equal to about 12% of total commercial sector electricity consumption and 4% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

EIA does not have estimates for electricity use specifically for space cooling by the industrial sector. Also, EIA does not have estimates for electricity demand for cooling on an hourly, daily, or monthly basis.

Electricity demand for cooling is significantly affected by climate and weather. Cooling degree days are relative measurements of outdoor air temperature and are used as an index for cooling energy requirements. EIA publishes population-weighted degree day data. The number of annual population-weighted cooling degree days in the United States has generally increased since 1950.

Learn more:
EIA projections for energy use in the residential and commercial sectors in Annual Energy Outlook, Reference case Tables 4 and 5
Energy Explained: Use of electricity
Energy Explained: Degree days
Energy Explained: Energy use in homes
Energy Explained: Energy use in commercial buildings
Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS)
Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS)

Last updated: February 3, 2021


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