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U.S. Residential Energy Use Fell In 2020 Despite Lockdown

U.S. residential energy consumption fell by 4 percent year over year in 2020, even though more people stayed at home to work or attend school during the lockdowns last year, the EIA said on Monday.

Warmer winter months of 2020 led to lower demand for space heating, which offset increased electricity retail consumption because of work-from-home and remote schooling, the administration said in its Monthly Energy Review.

Electricity consumption in the residential sector increased by 2 percent last year compared to 2019, as many people worked from home and continued to work from home even after the restrictions were eased. Relatively warm temperatures in the summer also helped higher electricity retail sales as warm weather led to increased consumption of electricity for air conditioning at homes, according to the EIA.

The higher electricity sales, however, were entirely offset by lower demand for space heating in the winter months of 2020, which were warmer than usual and had 15 percent fewer heating degree days (HDDs) on average, the EIA noted.

Compared to the first three months of 2019, residential consumption of natural gas fell by 15 percent, petroleum by 17 percent, and wood by 15 percent in January, February, and March 2020. Since space and water heating are the most energy-intensive uses in the average U.S. home, and they account for about two-thirds of U.S. home energy use, lower demand for space heating resulted in an overall 4-percent decline in total U.S. residential energy use in 2020, the EIA said.

Total U.S. energy consumption in all sectors to just 93 quadrillion BTUs, last year fell down by 7 percent from 2019, according to data from the EIA.

The decrease was the largest one on record—both in absolute terms and percentage terms, and can mostly be attributed to the toll that the pandemic took on the United States last year. This brings U.S. energy consumption in 2020 to absolute levels not seen in decades. The next largest decrease in U.S. energy consumption was between 2008 and 2009, when U.S. energy consumption fell 5 percent during the economic recession, according to the EIA.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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