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Frequently Asked Questions

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

In the Annual Energy Outlook 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that in 2018, electricity use for cooling the interior of buildings (space cooling) by the U.S. residential and commercial sectors was about 377 billion kilowatthours (kWh), which was equal to about 9% of total U.S. electricity consumption in 2018.

The residential sector’s electricity use for cooling was about 214 billion kWh in 2018, which was equal to about 15% of total residential sector electricity consumption and 5% of total U.S. electricity consumption.

The commercial sector, which includes commercial and institutional buildings, used about 163 billion kWh for cooling in 2018, 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. The number of annual cooling degree days in the United States has generally increased since 1950.

Learn more:
EIA estimates and projections for energy use in the residential and commercial sectors in Annual Energy Outlook 2019, Reference case Tables 4 and 5
Energy Explained: Use of Electricity
Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS)

Last updated: January 31, 2019

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