Innovation, FTW: Americans are using less electricity

posted at 3:31 pm on January 4, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Eco-radicals seem to take great pleasure in indiscriminately fighting tooth-and-nail against economic growth in all corners of the world, no matter if it means killing jobs or perpetuating poverty, because they too often believe that prosperity-for-all and global environmental quality are necessarily and mutually exclusive ends. In the real world, of course, human beings are endlessly adaptable, resourceful, and innovative, and while economic growth and rising fuel consumption may have been pretty well coupled for a lengthy while, we are starting to reach the point where our methods and technologies are getting ever-increasingly smart and efficient, meaning that we are getting more and more energy and productivity out of fewer and fewer resources. Ain’t prosperity grand?

Specifically, Americans’ demand for electricity is on the wane, and while there are a couple of pitfalls there (the recession and manufacturing-industry issues among them), that is at least partially good news:

Americans are using more gadgets, televisions and air conditioners than ever before. But, oddly, their electricity use is barely growing, posing a daunting challenge for the nation’s utilities.

The Energy Information Administration is projecting that electricity use in the U.S. will rise an average of just 0.6% a year for industrial users and 0.7% for households through 2040.

That’s a far cry from the middle decades of the past century, when utilities could rely on electricity consumption growing by more than 8% a year. …

For decades, electricity use was viewed as a barometer of economic growth, but the link has become less clear cut in recent years, partly because of a big push to make major appliances and other products, such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and high-efficiency motors, that use less electricity.

Whether or not President Obama tries to take credit for recent dropoffs with his arbitrarily-slapped on efficiency standards on cars and light bulbs and whatnot, he’s merely tacking on to a trend that’s already happening. Because people will always prefer to pay less for a given product, energy efficiency is a factor that drives businesses to compete and invent ways to improve. Cars are already wildly more efficient than they were just a few decades ago, we use far fewer materials for packaging our wares, increased natural gas usage is helping us cut down our carbon emissions, and etcetera. The computer is probably the singular most indirectly “green” object ever invented!

It’s increasingly clear that continuing economic development is starting to bring about more environmental quality rather than less; who knows what further innovations await, if only we’ll only let it happen?


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Leftard ‘logic’

Schadenfreude on January 4, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Al-Gore (like Al-Jezeera) is your Lord.

Schadenfreude on January 4, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Because they can’t afford it! Expect more elderly to either freeze to death or die from heat exhaustion. Thank you, obama!

Blake on January 4, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Energy prices rise = consumers conserve = energy companies lose revenue = raise energy rates = rinse and repeat.

trs on January 4, 2013 at 3:39 PM

What a surprise…our new technology for making things less expensive, lasting longer on a charge, using led rather than tubes all leads to less electricity.

It also costs less to run a car than a horse…less to make a bullet than a arrow…sails better than oars…

Gosh what a surprise…

right2bright on January 4, 2013 at 3:41 PM

In California, years ago during a water moratoriam, we were commandeered to use less water, heavily fined if caught…and of course less water meant less revenue so they raised the rates to offset the loss in revenues…Shocka!! They didn’t lower the rates when water flowed back…

right2bright on January 4, 2013 at 3:44 PM

FTW: Americans are using less electricity

More factories in China and Malaysia?

sharrukin on January 4, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Americans are getting older…older folks use less electricity.

Stores and businesses closed down…they use less electricity.

People can’t afford electricity…so they use less electricity.

albill on January 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

I don’t know about anyone else but where I live, the NE, there is one thing driving this and that is cost. Electric bills now equal about 5% of my gross income, far more than gasoline, and my family uses it sparingly. It’s not uncommon to have $400 electrical bills in July and August and that is with running 1 small 5000 BTU room air conditioner only on very hot days. All major appliances, except the fridge, are only ever used in off peak hours after 8 pm. My house is less than 1200 SF and I have not seen an electrical bill under $150 in years. I have gas for heat and hot water and I am thinking I may switch to a gas dryer. The irony of this is that all the electricity here is generated by natural gas and burning garbage so the costs should be dropping, not rising.

How good this is for the environment? I don’t know. But I can tell you that it means this money is not going to anything else so I don’t think it’s helping the economy much.

Rocks on January 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

What a pile of crap, in all regards. Including, with apologies, Erika’s “analysis”. Energy use is down because a huge portion of this nation is now out of work and can’t afford to pay steadily increasing utility rates, ergo they are using as little as possible. FORCED reduction, COERCED reduction, is nothing to f*cking cheer. And it sure shit ‘energy star’ efficiencies. Just how many major appliances do you idiots think have been bought in the last few years of recession and severe economic and employment uncertainty?

rayra on January 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

This is a bit on topic and is a FYI for any who have cars. It is information you might want/need and pass on to others?

Watch this video from Fox Business…if your CAR IS OLDER THAN 2012 you need to AVOID THE NEW E15 GAS that is just starting to show up at gas stations. Most car companies will not honor the warranty on your car if you use this new gas.

http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/2000862202001/
L

letget on January 4, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Innovation, FTW:

seriously, this is a f’n STUPID headline.

rayra on January 4, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Modern HVAC units and house appliances are remarkably energy efficient compared to what they replace. But they don’t last for jack compared to the older stuff.

When they blow up we order new ones from China and have them shipped here.

The environmental cost of burning that many chakras is never considered.

CorporatePiggy on January 4, 2013 at 3:52 PM

Naturally with the increased efficiency comes government crying for what elses REVENUE!

Wont be long before states are charging a mileage tax as the more efficient cars just don’t use as much gas and lord knows government can’t do without.

I mean its for the children!

abnormal_1 on January 4, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Worldwide electricity use up?

Bmore on January 4, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Just how many major appliances do you idiots think have been bought in the last few years of recession and severe economic and employment uncertainty?

rayra on January 4, 2013 at 3:49 PM

The fraud of “Energy Star”

Gasoline powered alarm clocks = “Green Device”

BobMbx on January 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM

FTW: Americans are using less electricity

More factories in China and Malaysia?

sharrukin on January 4, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Heh.

A pretty static analysis, Erika. What do you suppose has happened to domestic use of natural gas (over electricity) given its continual decline in price?

ShainS on January 4, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Aw, the poor Luddites.

John the Libertarian on January 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Solyndra has not been using electricity for quite some time now….as are other such money laundering enterprises,
so what is the surprise there ?

burrata on January 4, 2013 at 4:24 PM

I remember that, right2bright! “Thanks, and now here’s your rate increase.” They are guaranteed a profit by law.

My new furnace barely heats the house, my new dishwasher barely rinses my dishes, but they’re “efficient.” And the companies get govt subsidies if they meet their energy standards.

A friend of mine finally got solar panels for air con. Her electricity bill in CA was $800/month. Sure, she can do it, but others less well off just leave the state. Can’t afford it.

PattyJ on January 4, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Most of it is the result of Nat Gas….dryers, ranges, water heaters, furnace.

The rest is simple mechanical/electrical efficiency increases, not the BS EE-tags slapped on appliances. A/C is the hog that feeds, mine uses about 4KWh when it’s in use (and it’s fairly old). So once all buildings had A/C, all that was left was to improve it, and insulation.

FYI: EE washers are terrible, ironically more expensive than “normal” ones, and provide tax incentives to companies.

John Kettlewell on January 4, 2013 at 4:45 PM

We are seeing the beauty of this with our Public Utility here. Our electricity rates have doubled over the last 10 years. As any public entity, they base their future spending off of projected future revenue. People use less electricity, so the Public Utility must increase rates to make up for the loss in projected revenue. They are also in favor of more stringent environmental regulations as they do not have to pay out of their profits to comply, they simply pass the cost directly on to the end users.

The end result is the opposite of supply and demand, the opposite of how a free market operates. Precisely what you would expect from publicly run companies.

weaselyone on January 4, 2013 at 4:52 PM

weaselyone on January 4, 2013 at 4:52 PM

We here in S TX have a ‘co-op’ on our electricty. It is very reasonable and all who are in the ‘co-op’ own part of the company. This year we got a $75 Christmas gift from them, taken off our past bill. And at the last bill we got a 175+credit. Last month we paid nothing and for next month we have a 37 credit on our bill. If anyone has/can look into a co-op you might save money? I have no idea if this will continue, but WE are very happy with them.
L

letget on January 4, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Eco-radicals seem to take great pleasure in indiscriminately fighting tooth-and-nail against economic growth in all corners of the world, no matter if it means killing jobs or perpetuating poverty, because they too often believe that prosperity-for-all and global environmental quality are necessarily and mutually exclusive ends

…the wrong people!…are always massacered!

KOOLAID2 on January 4, 2013 at 5:01 PM

Americans are using more gadgets, televisions and air conditioners than ever before. But, oddly, their electricity use is barely growing, posing a daunting challenge for the nation’s utilities.

The Energy Information Administration is projecting that electricity use in the U.S. will rise an average of just 0.6% a year for industrial users and 0.7% for households through 2040.

If the environmental permitting laws had remained what they were in 2008, a stagnant or slowly-rising demand for electricity would not be a “daunting problem” for utilities–they would continue to run the same power plants, or try to replace coal-fired plants by natural gas-fired plants to take advantage of relatively abundant and cheap natural gas.

But the environmental “rules” imposed by Obama’s EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, which restrict the emissions of carbon dioxide by both coal-fired and gas-fired power plants make it extremely difficult to re-permit an existing power plant, whose permits need renewal every 5 years. Since the “rules” were put into place in 2010, the entire fleet of power plants will have to be re-permitted by 2015, which will probably lead to massive shutdowns of power plants to avoid the need for massive investments for CO2 capture. Even if electricity demand is stagnant, a declining supply WOULD be a “daunting problem” for utilities–the need for massive investments for CO2 capture, with higher fuel consumption for CO2 compression, while demand and revenues remain constant.

A “daunting problem” created uniquely by the Obama Administration!

Steve Z on January 4, 2013 at 5:02 PM

letget on January 4, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Sounds like a good deal. Our public utility, in addition to increasing rates, has been dumping Millions into “researching” renewables, and recently built a brand new million+ dollar complex that produces zero electricity. It simply houses their service trucks and office personnel. It also has heated floors in the shop and a 65″ flatscreen in nearly every office. It is absolutely disgusting. They have no concept of cutting expenditures as they are not forced to compete for their customer base. They simply raise rates to make up for any shortfall. Then consumers use less electricity to save money and rates go up again. I figure it will bottom out at a certain base load of electricty eventually, but I have a feeling my monthly bill will be north of $800 by then.

weaselyone on January 4, 2013 at 5:04 PM

Ms. Johnsen, I suspect you are using the acronym “FTW” to signify ‘for the win’. I also believe you don’t know any bikers- and I don’t mean Schwinns or even Yamahas. “FTW” is a one-percenter term in the bike realm meaning ” F*** The World.” You should seriously reconsider using those letters.

M240H on January 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Ms. Johnsen, I suspect you are using the acronym “FTW” to signify ‘for the win’. I also believe you don’t know any bikers- and I don’t mean Schwinns or even Yamahas. “FTW” is a one-percenter term in the bike realm meaning ” F*** The World.” You should seriously reconsider using those letters.

M240H on January 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM

It has lots of other designations as well. A few of the so-called 1% of motorcycle enthusiasts use this word, so the more common public understanding of “For The Win” should be abandoned?

Next your going to tell me that the Obama Administration shouldn’t have pushed their “Win The Future” (WTF) idea.

weaselyone on January 4, 2013 at 5:51 PM

My house is less than 1200 SF and I have not seen an electrical bill under $150 in years.

y’all are doing it wrong, we have a 2,000 sf house in Houston and I never broke $150 this year. We do have a gas dryer though. My highest days of usage twice in a row are Christmas day 2011 and 2012. DanMa’am likes the pretty lights on all day on Christmas.

Our rates in Houston are about 10 cents/kWH if you shop. letget mentioned co-ops. My parents were in one in Huntsville and they had the lowest rates I knew of. Except from deregulation but great rates nonetheless.

DanMan on January 4, 2013 at 5:51 PM

M240H on January 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM

I’m thinkin’ scooter trash probably shouldn’t be the arbiter of culture…oh wait. Given where our culture appears to be yer right. It would be a vast improvement if they were.

(have to admit to riding the original crotch rocket, Triumph Bonny with frenched shorties, as loud as it was fast. Glad I survived it)

DanMan on January 4, 2013 at 5:59 PM

The fraud of “Energy Star”

Gasoline powered alarm clocks = “Green Device”

BobMbx on January 4, 2013 at 4:02 PM

I make it a point to vigorously shred all the flyers my electric company sends me exhorting me to buy new, so-called “Energy Star” rated appliances. Hell, no. The appliances we bought over 20 years ago are still going strong and I am not about to get rid of them until — just like my car — a repairman tells me they’re not worth fixing any more.

letget on January 4, 2013 at 4:59 PM

In PA, we were able to sign up with a select few electric companies who offered competitive, lower rates for a period of time, so I tried it. My electric bills weren’t outrageous to begin with, but they are several dollars lower than they were previously, even in the summer.

PatriotGal2257 on January 4, 2013 at 6:10 PM

It’s not uncommon to have $400 electrical bills in July and August and that is with running 1 small 5000 BTU room air conditioner only on very hot days. All major appliances, except the fridge, are only ever used in off peak hours after 8 pm. My house is less than 1200 SF and I have not seen an electrical bill under $150 in years.

Say what?
My more than twice as large 2600 square foot home in New Hampshire with central air and 2 story high ceilings in the LR/DR area runs at $75/month average at 14 cents per KWH.
You REALLY need to get one of those watt meters and measure everything. You’re paying 4 times more per square foot than I am and I run my central air a lot.

philw1776 on January 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

This is all those Lief’s volts and Fiskers!

This is helping climate change, why we just set a record in snow cover in the northern hemisphere. But, er, we have the water vaporist fighters who say higher temps, wetter air, ergo, more snow..

We also had the coldest start to a winter season in history in some areas.

Now we are in a five to eight day warmup followed by the hammer!

I guess former vice President Al Gor is busy selling Current TV to Al Jazerra and will be all over this phony cold climate change as soon as he can start collecting $250K a speeech or whatever he was minting money doing.

You go Al, a real liberal!

IlikedAUH2O on January 4, 2013 at 6:29 PM

philw1776 on January 4, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Has he checked any wires leading to the next door neighbor’s machine shop?

I used to turn off people’s lights for a living.

Gooood times, goood times.

IlikedAUH2O on January 4, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Of course our increase in electricity consumption is leveling off. Notice that the actual demand hasn’t gone down, but the INCREASE in demand has evaporated. This is to be expected.

In the 1970′s many homes did not have a TV or an electric dryer or air conditioning. Now they do. Most of our increase in energy consumption was in the came as things like A/C became ubiquitous. Once everyone had it, the increase stopped. This is particularly so with the poor who now have TV sets, air conditioning, computers, and just as many “wall warts” powering various electronics devices as everyone else.

It isn’t that anyone is using LESS energy, just that nearly everyone has now accumulated the things that had been driving the increase in energy consumption and the increase now just basically reflects population chance. Per capita energy consumption is going to be flat for a while until everyone starts getting electric cars and that energy switches from the gas pump to the power grid. But that won’t be for another hundred years or so at large scale.

crosspatch on January 4, 2013 at 7:23 PM

And given liberal logic, since we are using LESS, we have to pay MORE.

GarandFan on January 4, 2013 at 8:29 PM

We’ve got co-op electric here in East Texas, too. The rates aren’t bad at all. One thing I did do was re-lamp the entire house with LED lights. This place had 40 recessed 65 watt can lights in the ceiling. Now, those are down to about 8 watts each. The place is really well insulated. Of course, we have to run the AC in the summer. We never cool below 79 degrees. Bill always stays under $200 even at the peak in August and we get rebates all time.

trigon on January 4, 2013 at 9:14 PM

M240H on January 4, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Yeah, bikers are a tiny minority of the population and behave like some kind of persecuted homosexual group.

The rest of the world sees FTW as meaning “For the Win”.

Bikers do use the internet – to date for the most part.

CorporatePiggy on January 4, 2013 at 9:39 PM

In California, years ago during a water moratoriam, we were commandeered to use less water, heavily fined if caught…and of course less water meant less revenue so they raised the rates to offset the loss in revenues…Shocka!! They didn’t lower the rates when water flowed back…

right2bright on January 4, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Same thing happened here in North Carolina a couple of years ago. We’re still paying the higher rates.

As for electricity: 6 year old house…new ‘efficient’ heat pump been repaired 5 times already. Wasn’t installed correctly. Froze up the first year. Then, fine until the warranty ran out then cost over $3000 to repair. Runs all the time, uses more auxiliary heat than our 25-year-old heat pump on a former house, costs twice as much to run, even with the temp set at 65, which is as cold as we can stand it. Now Duke Power has taken over and is going to raise rates by 15% to cover their “green energy initiatives.”

winfield on January 4, 2013 at 11:45 PM