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U.S. per-capita energy use almost flat for a decade

April 23, 2020
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In promising news that highlights efficiency gains, U.S. per-capita energy use declined modestly last year, according to 2019 data recently released by the Energy Information Administration, reversing an uptick in 2018. This data precedes the COVID-19 pandemic, and we expect a more significant drop when 2020 data is released at this time next year.

The figure below shows how population has increased steadily over the past 40 years, while total U.S. energy use has barely changed since 2000. Per-capita energy use declined 13% from 2000 to 2009, and has held steady since then. These figures are not adjusted for weather and economic growth, which are factors in variations from year to year.

 Source: All data from EIA March 2020 Monthly Energy Review except 2019 population, which comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.

We also looked at energy consumption patterns in the residential and commercial sectors. In the residential sector, consumption (shown by the blue line below) trended upward until 2010 but has been level or a bit lower since then. As a result, consumption per household (the red line) has generally declined since 2000. Efficiency improvements to homes and home appliances have contributed greatly to this trend.

Source: https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/families/households.html Energy data from EIA March 2020 Monthly Energy Review. Number of households from U.S. Census Bureau.

In the commercial sector, building floor area (blue line below) has increased during this period, but as building efficiency has increased, consumption per square foot of floor area has declined since peaking in 1999.

Source: Energy data from EIA March 2020 Monthly Energy Review. Floor area from EIA Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey except 2019, which comes from EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2020.

 

More data and information about energy efficiency impacts are available in the Energy Efficiency Impact Report released in December.

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