Residential Energy Consumption by Type of Use

A gradual shift is occurring in how energy is used in U.S. homes.  Here we break down residential energy consumption by type of use and compare usage in different regions of the United States.

Residential energy consumption by type of use chart

Residential energy consumption by type of use

For the first time in many decades, energy used for heating and cooling is less than half the total residential consumption. Air conditioning and space heating accounted for 57.7% of residential energy usage in 1993, and decreased to 47.7% in 2009. Over the same period, energy usage for appliances and electronics increased by an almost equal amount. Even though appliances and electronic devices have become more efficient, they are using more energy because their quantity has greatly increased. The data for 2009 was collected in 2010 and 2011 and it is still representative of trends today.

Keep in mind that these statistics are for the entire U.S. based on data from over 113 million homes. And the numbers show consumption for the entire year so air conditioning, for example, could use 35% of monthly energy in hot months and 0% in cold months resulting in an average of 13%.

The numbers for heating and cooling vary greatly depending on whether you live in the north or south. Let’s look at those differences.

Residential energy consumption by type of use across US regions table

Residential energy consumption by type of use across US regions

Use the table above to compare each type of energy use across the four main census regions of the U.S. For example, the table says that 26.6% of all energy used in the U.S. for heating water is used in the Midwest region. It does not say that water heating comprises 26.6% of the total energy use within the Midwest region – get the difference?

With statistics and data, the devil is in the detail so it is vitally important that you really understand what the data represents to gain useful insight from it.

Below is a twist on the table above.

Residential energy consumption by type of use within US regions table

Residential energy consumption by type of use within US regions

This table shows the percentage of each type of energy used within a region. Using this table we can get the correct answer to our last statement, i.e., water heating comprises 16.5% of the total energy use within the Midwest region.

Another way to look at the above tables is that in the first table each column adds up to 100%, and in the second table each row adds up to 100%.  See how easy it can be to get incorrect information from a seemingly simple table?

So we can use the tables to find that in the Northeast, air conditioning comprises 6% of residential energy used in the U.S., whereas the southern region uses a whopping 69% of air conditioning energy in the country. And in the Northeast, air conditioning is only 1.7% of a typical residence annual energy usage, while it is 13.6% in the hot southern region.

Enough data for now. But it is interesting to get a glimpse of how energy is used across the U.S. And most importantly, it helps us determine which areas of usage we should improve upon to save the most energy and money in our home.

The Humidity Factor

Another factor that greatly affects the amount of energy required to heat and cool a home is humidity. I cover that topic in a blog on How humidity affects heating and cooling. In that blog I break down energy use by ‘type of use’ within climate regions. By determining the climate region you live in, you can more accurately determine how energy is used in your home than by using census regions as we have done in this blog.

What uses the energy in your home?

The information I’ve provided here shows how the average residence uses energy and how that usage changes across the U.S. Now I challenge you to determine how you use energy in your home. It’s easy by following my step-by-step process for How To Save.

I live in Texas where it is hot and fairly humid.  Most of our energy in summer months goes to air conditioning.  I’d love to hear from those of you in the northern areas where heating is the big cost.  Share your ideas below.