Average Electricity Usage

One of the many wheels that is constantly turning in my head concerns itself primarily with saving money. It often turns in concert with the saving the environment wheel. The wheels got to turning together one day and led me to research the average kilowatt hours of electricity used in American homes and then to wonder how we were doing as compared with our neighbors.

The general consensus is that American homes use from about 10,656 to 11,000 kilowatt hours per year. That’s about 29.27 to 30.14 kilowatt hours per day.

My research also led me to the Treehugger forum where users were tossing out things like “I was floored to see that my average usage was 7 kwH per day” and “I am consistently around 600kwh/month or 20/day for my family of 2 adults and 2 young kids.” Or how about this (hold on to your seat if you think you’re already “green”):

Family of two adults and one child, small single-family home near New York City. We’ve averaged 150 kwh a month over the summer – 5 kwh a day. Our winter usage was slightly higher, but that’s before I converted to CFL’s. I stay home with my daughter, so someone is home every day. The house is sited in such a way that we don’t need to use any artificial lighting at all during the day. We only use air conditioning on the hottest days, and when we do, it is a small unit used in conjunction with fans. Our clothes washer is a new, very efficient front-loader. The dryer is natural gas. Our cooking range and oven are electric. The refrigerator is a new Energy Star model. Nothing fancy, but at 18 cu ft, a little smaller than average. We don’t particularly skimp on television or computer use — or anything else, for that matter — but I am very careful to turn anything I’m not using off. So 7 khw/day seems quite high. Check all the good suggestions people have made here. I’m sure you’ll get your usage down.

I don’t want to commit slander or libel or whatever, but I have to assume that this person is inflating (or deflating) their numbers a bit in order to win some argument or something. (Remember: Everyone’s a loser when they argue on the Internet.) This 5 KWH/day business just does not seem possible.

We are pretty careful with our usage, though my husband does have a tendency to leave the light on in his bathroom all day. And we have very good insulation (in the attic at least). We have a couple of trees that cast some shade, and we keep the AC on 80 during the day and 78 at night. In the winter, the electric heat is set to 65. After 11 months living in this house, our average per day use is 38 KWH. As you can see from the sampling in the chart below (three months was all I could stand to format in HTML), we spiked all the way up to 66 KWH per day during our very cold January; and this past May was our very lowest usage month.

I’d love to hear what other real people (non-TreeHugger forum goers) are using per month or per day. I’d especially like to hear from other Tennesseans. Whip out those electric bills and tell me what you’ve got. Also, if anyone can explain degree days better than this site, I’d love to hear it! In the meantime, I’m going to focus my efforts on keeping our house on a 30-per-day or less habit. Getting in line with the national average seems a good goal to start with. I’ll keep you posted on how we do. Hopefully we can save a little green all around.

Here’s a sample of electricity usage in our 1300-square-foot house from three different seasons:

October 2008 January 2009 May 2009
KWH This Month 802 1907 841
Billing Days 30 29 32
KWH Per Day 27 66 26
Degree Days 277 941 214
Cost $87.72 $187.50 $82.81

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