Many of the requests for information that I receive from people usually are accompanied by this question. While there is really no typical household, this month I thought I would give you some household energy statistics from various preliminary reports recently released from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey. This should help you determine how much of your energy use can feasibly be supplied by solar.
A household’s electricity usage varies significantly, depending on its location, time of the year, time of the day and other environmental conditions. Generally, electricity usage is higher for households in the south and for all households in the summer, due to air conditioning loads. During the day, it will tend to be higher in the late afternoon when people return home from work, adjust their thermostats and begin to prepare dinner. Whether you have trees that shade your home, children - especially teenagers, electrical resistance heat or energy saving appliances, all can impact the amount of electricity you use.
The amount of electricity a customer uses over time is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). According to the survey, the average household in the United States during 2009 used 908 kWh of electricity per month. By state, this figure ranges from a high of 1,273 kWh in Louisiana to a low of 521 kWh in Maine. Generally the southern states had the highest consumption at an average of 1,162 kWh, while the remaining eastern, midwestern and western states averaged 769 kWh.
The average cost of electricity was 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. By state, this ranges from a high of 20.3 cents per kilowatt-hour in Connecticut to a low of 7.6 cents per kilo-watt-hour in North Dakota. The price per kilowatt-hour varies significantly from state to state but generally California and eastern states have the highest rates.
The largest single use of household electricity was for refrigerators and freezers at 17.2%, closely followed by air-conditioning at 16%, space heating at 13.4%, water heating at 9.1% and lighting at 8.8%. From this data, you clearly want to make sure your refrigerator, freezer and air conditioner are energy star efficient, in proper working condition and set to proper temperature if you want to save energy, because these appliances account for one-third of your electrical use.
Another interesting statistic from the survey is that the average household has 2,171 square feet of living area. Surprisingly 27% of all households have less than 1,000 square feet whereas only 25% of households are larger than 3,000 square feet. Finally the average household has 2.57 members, with 56% of all households having someone home all day.
So how does all this pertain to your decision of going solar? First, the average household is not going to feasibly be able to go off-the-grid, especially if you live down south. To help illustrate this, our Powershed produces 300 kWh per month. Comparing that to the average monthly consumption of 908 kWh, you will need a ground mounted solar array equal in size to three Powershed units which will take up a large amount of land and cost well over $65, 000. Secondly, since the Powershed solar array is considered to be average sized, the average household should feasibly be able to supply between 25 and 40 percent of their electrical consumption by solar.
As always, contact me if you have any questions.