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Frequently Asked Questions

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

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates (in the Annual Energy Outlook 2018) that in 2017, electricity use for space cooling (the interior of buildings) by the U.S. residential and commercial sectors was about 355 billion kilowatthours (kWh), which was equal to about 9.6% of total U.S. electricity purchases/retail sales in 2017.

The residential sector’s electricity use for cooling was about 212 billion kWh in 2017, which was equal to about 15.4% of total residential sector electricity retail sales/purchases and 5.8% of total U.S. electricity sales/purchases.

The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings, used about 143 billion kWh for cooling in 2017, which was equal to about 10.6% of total commercial sector electricity purchases, and 3.9% of total U.S. electricity retail sales/purchases.

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. The total number of cooling degree days in the United States in 2017 was the sixth highest annual amount since 1950.

Learn more:
EIA estimates and projections for energy use in the residential and commercial sectors in Annual Energy Outlook 2018, Reference case Tables 4 and 5
Energy Explained: Use of Electricity
Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS)
Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS)

Last updated: August 14, 2018

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