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Residential Energy Consumption

in Perspective

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In-depth information about how energy was used in residential housing units that were occupied year-round is provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in this analysis of the 1997 Residential Energy Consumption Survey results. The uses and costs of residential energy (excluding vehicle fuels, primarily gasoline) were analyzed by using households' energy-related characteristics, such as location, type (for example, singlefamily), size, number of household members and vehicles, and age.

The average household spent $1,338 on energy in 1997

The average household spent most of their energy dollars on refrigeration, other appliances, and lighting, followed by space heating. Over 45 percent of the average household's energy costs was for energy used in appliances and lighting, while space heating accounted for another 30 percent. Water heating and air conditioning expenditures accounted for the remaining energy expenditures in the average household.

and used 101 million Btu of energy.

This 101 million Btu value reflects the energy content of all energy sources, including electricity, as they are used in the home (so-called "site energy"). However, large amounts of additional energy are used to generate and transmit electricity for residential use. If the energy losses in electricity generation and transmission are added to the energy value of the electricity as it enters the home, then the total energy requirement associated with the average household (so-called "primary energy") becomes 172 million Btu.

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About half of the average household's site energy consumption was used for space heating. Another 22 percent was used for appliances. On a per-household basis, site energy consumption was 27 percent lower in 1997 than in 1978. Most of the decrease was in the amount of energy used for space heating and occurred between 1978 and 1987. The 1997 site energy consumption was the same as in 1987.

Households spent more money on electricity than on all other fuels combined,

Households spent a total of $136 billion on energy and almost two-thirds of the total ($88 billion) was used to purchase electricity. The remaining amount was spent on natural gas, $36 billion; fuel oil, $7 billion; LPG, $4 billion; and kerosene, $0.5 billion.

but used more natural gas than all other fuels combined.

Households used a total of 10 quadrillion Btu of site energy in their homes. Natural gas (5.3 quadrillion Btu) and electricity (3.5 quadrillion Btu) predominated. Fuel oil (1.0 quadrillion Btu), LPG (0.4 quadrillion Btu), and kerosene (0.1 quadrillion Btu) accounted for the remainder. The relatively high cost of electricity per Btu accounts for the fact that more was spent on electricity despite the fact that more natural gas was consumed.

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Appliances, refrigerators, and lights accounted for approximately two-thirds of the electricity consumed in homes; no single appliance was clearly dominant. The remaining one-third was approximately equally divided among air-conditioning, space heating, and water heating

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the greater shares of most other fuels were used for space heating.

Sixty-eight percent of natural gas consumption was devoted to space heating, as was 72 percent of LPG and 84 percent of fuel oil. Kerosene was used almost exclusively for space heating

Natural gas remained the predominant fuel for space heating.

Natural gas was used as the main space-heating fuel in over half of all homes in 1978 and in 1997. In 1978, fuel oil was the second most prevalent space-heating fuel, while only 16 percent of homes had electric heat. By 1997, the situation was reversed; close to onethird of homes had electric heat, while only 9 percent were heated with fuel oil.

Refrigerators, color televisions, ranges, and ovens all were found in typical U.S. homes in 1997;

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The market penetration of refrigerators and color televisions was almost universal. More precisely, 99.9 percent of the homes had at least one refrigerator and 98.7 percent had at least one color television. (In fact, nearly two-thirds of the households had two or more color televisions.) Similarly, 99.2 percent of the households had ranges and 98.8 percent had ovens.

however, the presence of central air-conditioning depended on the location of the home;

Nationally, on average, 47 percent of the homes had central air-conditioning. In the
South, the warmest region, 70 percent of the homes had central air-conditioning. In the
Northeast, in contrast, only 22 percent of homes had central air-conditioning.

the presence of a clothes washer and dryer depended on the type of home;

The share of households with clothes washers and dryers varied substantially by type of home. Among single-family homes, 92 percent contained a clothes washer and 86 percent contained a clothes dryer. By contrast, among units in apartment buildings with five or more units, 21 percent contained a clothes washer and 18 percent contained a clothes dryer.

and the presence of a dishwasher depended on the age of the home.

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Not surprisingly, the share of households with dishwashers was higher among new homes than among old homes. The percent of homes with dishwashers was 30 percent for old homes (built in 1949 or before) and 77 percent for new homes (built from 1990 through 1997).

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