Ask an Expert: Household Electricity Use
How much electricity does the average household use in a year? And are there ways to decrease electricity use?
How much electricity does the average household use in a year?
On average, the typical American household uses about 10,400 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Electricity usage increases with the number of household members and household income. Older smaller homes built before 1970 actually use less energy than newer, larger homes built after 2000.
Air conditioning is the biggest user of electricity in the typical household at 17%. Space heating is second at 15%, with water heating following at 14%. Lighting, appliances and electronics are also significant users of household electricity.
To keep your household electricity use below average, consider taking these actions:
Turn off (and even unplug) electric-powered items you aren't using. TVs, computers, video game consoles, cable boxes, and digital video recorders all use energy even when not in use. Chargers for cell phones, tablets, and other devices don't use as much energy, but you can save by unplugging them. Tips: Any item that has a light on, even when powered down, continues to use power; unplug them for the greatest savings. Some items like computers have settings to lower the amount of energy use. Additionally, plugging electronic devices into advanced power strips ensures power will automatically shut off when the devices aren't in use.
Wash laundry in cold water to save on water-heating costs and take advantage of solar power to dry some items (rags, sheets, or even more items) outdoors in the summer and on drying racks in the winter (with the bonus of adding moisture to your dry winter air).
Reconsider cooking practices. Instead of turning on your oven—especially for small batches of food and particularly during the summer—save energy by plugging in your slow cooker, toaster oven, microwave, or air-fryer or by grilling.
Adjust your home environment according to the weather. Don't underestimate the value of opening and closing shades to keep the summer sun from heating up your home, along with doing the reverse in winter. Open and close windows to let the breeze in or keep the heat out, and run fans in occupied rooms to circulate air (be sure to turn off fans when rooms aren't occupied).