Commercial buildings have continued to be built larger while residential electricity bills have declined, according to recent reports from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In 2019, the average monthly electricity bill for residential customers in the United States fell 1.8% to $115 per month, from $118 per month in 2018. The lower bills can be attributed to lower electricity consumption per customer, offsetting a rise in electricity prices. The average price of electricity for residential customers rose from 12.87 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2018 to 13.01 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2019.
The lower consumption in 2019 was, in part, a result of cooler summer weather than in 2018. Also, longer-term trends in consumer behavior and energy efficiency have led to reduced electricity consumption by the average residential customer. The trends include increased use of behind-the-meter generation such as rooftop solar arrays, high-efficiency appliances, more efficient lighting and smart energy-saving devices. Since 2009, the average monthly electricity consumption per customer in the United States has declined by 2.3% from 908 kilowatt-hours in 2009 to 877 kilowatt-hours in 2019.
In 2019, customers in Hawaii paid the highest residential electricity bills, averaging $168 per month. Electricity prices in the state are three times higher than the national average. The higher prices are a result of the reliance on higher-cost, oil-fired electricity generation in the state, which requires marine imports of petroleum. Connecticut, Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi round out the top five states with the highest average residential electricity bills. Residential customers in Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois and Idaho have the lowest average electricity bills.
Meanwhile, commercial buildings have become larger in the United States as their floor space continues to grow faster than the number of commercial buildings. Preliminary results from EIA’s 2018 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey show 5.9 million U.S. commercial buildings contained 97 billion square feet. From 2012 to 2018, the number of commercial buildings rose by 6%, while commercial square footage increased by 11%.
The number of lodging, healthcare, and public order and safety buildings increased significantly from 2000 to 2018. More than one-third of the buildings in these categories were built after 2000, according to the 2018 survey. These buildings tend to be larger than the average commercial building in the United States and contributed to the increase in commercial floor space in comparison to the number of commercial buildings.
Building types that are more likely to be occupied more often, such as lodging, healthcare, and public order and safety, tend to be newer than building types that are less likely to be in constant use throughout the year, including religious worship, education and vacant buildings.
More heating and cooling is required for buildings with longer operating hours. A building that was used for 80 hours a week consumed 86,300 British thermal units per square foot per year, while a building that was used for all 168 hours in a week consumed 126,200 British thermal units per square foot per year.