US electricity use has flattened

American homes and businesses are using less power. A move away from manufacturing and a population shift to the South are among the factors.

By Kim Peterson Jan 3, 2013 4:58PM
Image: Electrical plug (Jupiterimages/Getty Images/Getty Images)You'd think America's electricity use would be skyrocketing, the way we're addicted to our smartphones, computers and televisions. Instead, our use has flattened -- a huge change from the past when growth was topping 8% a year, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The newspaper cites projections from the Energy Information Administration, which says that electricity use will only grow 0.6% a year for industrial users and 0.7% for consumers through 2040.

There are several reasons for the slowdown in growth, the Journal reports. Here are some of them.

More efficient products. Appliance makers have made huge progress in developing products that use less energy. The use of compact fluorescent lightbulbs also makes a difference.

Less U.S. manufacturing. Industrial companies are also getting efficient. And their numbers are declining as well as manufacturing has shifted elsewhere in this global economy.

A population shift to the South. The Economist reports that Americans are moving from Northern states to Southern states. As a result, they aren't running their heaters as much. Although air-conditioning uses more energy than heating, people don't need to use air-conditioning as much.

Better insulation. The Economist also notes that U.S. homes and businesses have better insulation, so we don't have to run our air conditioners and heaters as much.

This is all good news, unless you're a power company. Many are trying to improve profits in this slowdown, and struggling, the Journal reports. Some of them are building high-voltage transmission lines, which produce more money. Some are cutting investments in nuclear and renewable-energy projects.

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Jan 3, 2013 6:47PM
All you did here was copy/paste an article from the WSJ.  Is this what counts as journalism nowadays? 
Jan 3, 2013 11:50PM
Less manufacturing is a direct result of the government taxing the heck out anyone who takes a chance and actually makes a profit. I love my Levis made in india but would rather them be made in NC.
Jan 3, 2013 9:47PM
Oh and we also have a couple of huge natural disasters each year that knock out power to densely millions of people for days or weeks at at time...
Jan 4, 2013 9:28AM
It's obviously more efficient to power-up a Homeless Shelter than all the repossessed homes banks have taken.
Jan 4, 2013 12:40PM

Over the last few years, starting about when I retired we/I thought we should get more energy efficent and conscience...


We ended up replacing all the windows we had left with Low E windows, we had done about a 1/3 before then, about 18 total...Reduced sizes some places, but still have about 5 large ones.

Have eventually replaced all doors into house, 4...Not including a LowE deck slider.

Added insulating factors and replaced all siding with wood/cedar...Added 1/2 (at least) inch more drywall inside..Everything is caulked heavely,(not completely done), any cracks in concrete mostly sealed...

Determined to add outside sheeting and insulating to walls with underlayment and OSB.

Brought most walls to 7-8 inch thickness....SW walls to 9 inches...

Pretty much increased all walls by at least 2 to 2 1/2 inches or more.

Added thermo ice/storm shield to roof....All of roof, not just leading 3-5 feet or peaks.

Most or all of roofs have, have been replaced in last 5-7 years.

Added insulation and better venting to attic areas...

It's cost a few bucks over time.....But is paying us back in energy bills and going more then break even...A win-win situation..  

Jan 4, 2013 11:13AM

Sticking with the Article at hand.....Yeah, I could believe, there is quite a lot less usage because of empty houses and foreclosures...If owned by banks, many have went into a shutdown mode and were prepared with water drained, shutoffs and lights,heat and air eliminated...

Unfortunately it is not good for houses to sit like that for any extended time, without heating/cooling or water running through pipes and occasional airing out...Maintenance needs to include the simple things also...

We have been witness to what happens to some houses/homes that sit vacant too long..

And that does not include the vandalism factor..

Mother Nature on her own or left to her own devices, can be quite cruel; And take back,what was once hers......

Jan 4, 2013 10:19AM
Interesting, on the population shift to the South.  I'm thinking of moving from MN to TX after this last Obama tax increase.   At least I can eliminate the $100k I pay in State income tax each year.   Oh, and I guess I'll take the small business I own with me, along with the employees who want to go with.
Jan 4, 2013 11:35AM

We have a plethora of different types of energy use at our abode...


Sometimes solar nite lights..

Bottle Gas or Propane

Fuel oil furnace

And wood burners, which we haven't used for a few years

At one time our heat, was supplemented by propane heat in a couple of rooms, no longer..

Installed larger furnace,cut the Bgas usage. About 35 years ago.

Within last year installed 50 gal. more efficient electric water heater, cut propane usage again.

Have saved over an average of $300 a year on propane, only use for cooking now..

Electric water heater cost about $5 per month added to electric bill..

Savings of $250-300 per year(net).

We have converted most lights to CFLs....Wife does not like,she still use ICs a couple places.

Jan 4, 2013 11:11AM

LED TV's alone drop energy use some 95% over the old fashion versions or plasmas TV's. 


we switche to twister bulbs 12 years ago and thru monitoring free data from our local electric company saw a serious decline in electric use.  also fewer incandesent bulbs mean less nees for AC in the summer to delete that extra heat.  ALSO incandesent bulbs, while hot, are weak ways to heat a house verses gas or oil heating. 


i do wonder how much seriously unemployed people contribute to this.  they may be huddled around just a candle now with no lights or TV's even on..... 

Jan 4, 2013 10:54AM

There are Dozens of ways to cut down on Electrical and fuel usage....


I think up until a couple years back, you could get energy tax credits to write off your income.?

Think it dealt mostly with improvements in the home....

Certain new low energy using appliances, also like water heaters or furnaces.

Low E windows, doors, insulation, even caulking...

A certain percentage % factor of the cost' were recoverable.. Up to a max $ dollar amount.

Jan 4, 2013 10:47AM
Pocket dude ; Maybe you can move in with Mirage Guy....Sounds like a match made in Heaven.
Jan 3, 2013 10:23PM
I thought people were moving away from the southern states? After all, who wants to be called a cracker?
Jan 3, 2013 6:30PM

I would like to see electricity use decline sharply each year as an environmentalist concerned about global warming and air pollution.  It's ridiculous to keep wasting electricity through incandescent bulbs, inefficient a/c, and people carelessly leaving on lights, computers, tvs and electronics.  Far too many homes are underinsulated.


Then why can't every home and business with a roof add a solar panel saving the environment and money? 


The East Coast hurricane Sandy shows the need for solar panels on every home and business if practical. 

Jan 3, 2013 5:51PM
This is a good development, I'm looking forward to a peanut butter flavored spam.
Jan 3, 2013 6:44PM
It doesnt make any difference whether you are middle class, rich or poor.  We as people have to live! The rich can afford to pay extra taxes. Most of them are rich because they own companies.  If the less fortunate stop buying these goods the economy will be shot!  The rich get richer because they dont spend their money they invest in products that the unfortunate spend their money on.  The social programs help the unfortunate people live!  People who want to get rid of these programs better hope and pray they never need them!
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