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Electricity intensity in commercial, residential sectors to fall through 2050

By District Energy posted 02-13-2019 00:00


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Residential and commercial purchased electricity consumption is expected to increase more slowly than the number of households or total commercial floor space, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). As a result, electricity intensity, which is the amount of electricity consumed per household or square foot of commercial space, is expected to fall 0.3% and 0.4% annually, between 2018 and 2050, in the residential and commercial sectors, respectively.

Nationwide, the total number of households is projected to rise 0.7% annually, from 2018 to 2050, according to the EIA’s reference case. Over the same period, total commercial floor space should increase 1% annually. The U.S. population is expected to rise 0.5% annually through 2050.

Residential electricity sales are projected to increase by 0.4% annually, as commercial sales rise by 0.5% per year, according to the EIA’s reference case. Between 1990 and 2018, sales rose 1.7% in the residential sector and 1.8% in the commercial sector, and between 2018 and 2050, sales are expected to rise at a slower rate in part because of technology improvements and energy efficiency standards. Federal efficiency standards went into effect in the early 1990s and require minimum performance levels for heating and cooling equipment as well as appliances and other devices that use electricity. Overall efficiency has risen and electricity demand has fallen as less efficient equipment are replaced.

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