Home electricity use in US falls

Published: Tuesday | December 31, 2013 Comments 0

The average amount of electricity consumed in US homes has fallen to levels last seen more than a decade ago, back when the smartest device in people's pockets was a PalmPilot and anyone talking about a tablet was probably an archaeologist or a preacher.

Because of more energy-efficient housing, appliances and gadgets, power usage is on track to decline in 2013 for the third year in a row, to its lowest point since 2001, even though our lives are more electrified.

Here's a look at some of what has changed since the last time consumption was so low.

BETTER HOMES: In the early 2000s, as energy prices rose, more states adopted or toughened building codes to force builders to better seal homes so heat or air-conditioned air doesn't seep out so fast. That means newer homes waste less energy.

BETTER GADGETS: Big appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners have gotten more efficient thanks to federal energy standards that get stricter every few years as technology evolves.

A typical room air conditioner - one of the biggest power hogs in the home - uses 20 per cent less electricity per hour of full operation than it did in 2001, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Central air conditioners, refrigerators, dishwashers, water heaters, washing machines and dryers also have gotten more efficient.

Some 40-inch LED televisions bought today use 80 per cent less power than the cathode ray tube televisions of the past. Some use just $8 worth of electricity over a year when used five hours a day - less than a 60-watt incandescent bulb would use.

70 to 80 per cent less power

Those incandescent light bulbs are being replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs and LEDs that use 70 to 80 per cent less power. According to the Energy Department, widespread use of LED bulbs could save output equivalent to that of 44 large power plants by 2027.

The move to mobile also is helping. Desktop computers with big CRT monitors are being replaced with laptops, tablet computers and smart phones, and these mobile devices are specifically designed to sip power to prolong battery life.

It costs $1.36 to power an iPad for a year, compared with $28.21 for a desktop computer, according to the Electric Power Research Institute.

- AP

Share |

The comments on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner.
The Gleaner reserves the right not to publish comments that may be deemed libelous, derogatory or indecent. Please keep comments short and precise. A maximum of 8 sentences should be the target. Longer responses/comments should be sent to "Letters of the Editor" using the feedback form provided.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Top Jobs

View all Jobs

Videos