Energy efficiency improvements impact residential electricity sales
Residential electricity sales in the United States have fallen 3% since 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In the same period, sales per person have fallen 7%, and sales per household have declined 9%. Between 1990 and 2010, electricity sales had steadily risen.
“Although changes in the weather are a key driver of year-over-year fluctuations, energy efficiency improvements and economic factors have contributed to the decline in per capita residential electricity sales since 2010,” according to the EIA.
Sales per person range from 6,619 kilowatt-hours in Alabama to 1,828 kilowatt-hours in Hawaii. Southern states such as Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are more likely to use electricity for space heating. “About 60% of southern homes heat primarily with electricity compared with 22% outside the South.”
The EIA uses degree days to determine heating and cooling demands, and it’s based on deviations from a temperature of 65 degrees. A 45 degree day would represent 20 heating degree days. “Southern states such as South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama had 25% to 30% fewer heating degree days in 2016 compared with 2010, and each saw double-digit percentage declines in per capita residential electricity sales.”
Longer-term declines in residential electricity use are a result of investments in energy efficiency. “On average, from 2013 through 2015, electric utilities, energy efficiency program managers, energy service providers and other entities provided an annual average of $3.92 in energy efficiency incentives per person,” according to the EIA. Between 2013 and 2015, energy efficiency spending per person was a high of about $18 annually in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and a low of 4 cents annually in Alaska.
In 2015, 86% of households were using at least one compact fluorescent lamp or LED bulb, compared to 58% of households that were using at least one energy-efficient bulb in 2009.
Small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in states such as Hawaii and California have led to a decline in residential electricity sales. “In 2016, residential distributed PV generation was equivalent to 15% of electricity consumption in the residential sector in Hawaii, 6% in California and 3% in Arizona.”