In an age of cell phones, high definition TVs, DVRs, iPods, and countless devices sucking power from every outlet in our homes, the latest report from the Electric Power Research Institute might come as a surprise. The demand for residential power in the U.S. is actually falling.
For the last 30 years (up until 2011), residential power demand has grown fairly steadily. From 1980 to 2000, the growth rate was about 2.5 percent per year; from 2000 to 2010, the rate was 2 percent per year.
However, during the first three months of this year, residential power demand nationwide dropped by 1.3 percent (after adjustment for the effects of weather). It’s expected to continue to decline over the next ten years.
Why is this happening? According to the Associated Press, utility executives are a bit perplexed – typically, power usage is not affected by changes in the economy. As AP Energy Writer Jonathan Fahey writes, “Even when the economy is stagnant, people still watch TV and keep their ice cream cold.”
Utility analysts are pointing their fingers at quite a few possible reasons for the decline, including the increasing adoption of energy efficient lighting, the efficiency programs initiated by federal and state governments, the weak housing market resulting in families occupying smaller homes, and grassroots efforts from consumers cutting back on energy use. They’ve also noted that appliances have become more efficient in the past couple of decades.
To read more, see the AP article.