LASER’s Home Energy Challenge starts in 10 days. Have you joined yet? If not, join the challenge today! Last we we posted about why energy efficiency is important and the prior week we posted about how the home energy challenge will work, but this week we’ll focus on why saving energy is good for you, your wallet, and your family.
Did you know that in 2020, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,715 kilowatt-hours (kWh), equating to an average of about 893 kWh per month or 30 kWh per day. How much electricity and natural gas do you use? When you join the LASER Home Energy Savings Challenge you will be able to clearly see how much electricity and natural gas you use on an hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly basis!
Home Energy Use Statistics
Roughly 20% of US energy-related GHG emissions stem from heating, cooling, and powering households. However emissions stemming from home energy use varies considerably based on the amount and timing of energy consumed and the carbon intensity of your energy sources.
The amount of energy a home consumes is typically influenced by a number of factors including: climate, home square footage, home age, heating/cooling type, the number and age of your appliances, whether or not you have a pool, and the number of occupants in the house. For example as far as states go, Louisiana has the highest annual electricity consumption at 14,407 kWh per residential customer, and Hawaii has the lowest at 6,446 kWh per residential customer. Air conditioning, space heating, and water heating are the largest energy end uses in the average US home, as depicted in the chart below:
Emissions from electricity generation vary by energy source and by type and efficiency of electric power plants. The amount of CO2 produced per kWh during any period of time will vary according to the sources of electricity supplied to the electric power grid during that time. Therefore, electricity-related carbon emissions will vary hourly, daily, monthly, and annually. In 2020, total U.S. electricity generation by the electric power industry equated to about 0.85 pounds of carbon emissions per kWh.
California Energy Mix
Electricity in California equates to about 0.51 pounds of carbon emissions per kWh. In 2021, California was the nation’s top producer of electricity from solar, geothermal, and biomass energy. California was also the fourth-largest electricity producer in the nation, but the state was the nation’s second-largest consumer of electricity, and in 2020, it imported about 30% of its electricity supply from generating facilities outside of California, including imports from Mexico.
In 2021, California’s non-CO2 emitting electric generation categories (nuclear, large hydroelectric, and renewables) accounted for 49% of its in-state generation, compared to 51% in 2020. The change is attributable to the continued impacts from California’s ongoing drought. While the remaining portion of California’s electricity generation came primarily from natural gas.
Ways to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Energy Use
A typical household in the U.S. spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills. Luckily most households can reduce up to 30% of their energy use by adopting energy efficiency behaviors and equipment.
During the LASER Home Energy Challenge, we will be sending you specific weekly energy saving actions you can take to reduce carbon emissions stemming from your home energy use. But before the challenge begins it will be helpful to have a general framework for how you can lower carbon emissions.These are 4 main ways to lower carbon emissions stemming from your home energy usage:
- Increase your home’s energy efficiency. Given that energy is used in so many different ways in a house, there are a lot of opportunities to implement energy efficiency. For example a no cost way to improve energy efficiency, is choosing to forgo running the air conditioner and instead opting to run a ceiling fan. While a high upfront cost action would be hiring a professional contractor to upgrade to a more efficient HVAC system.
- Shift when you use energy. Dependent upon the season and day of the week, the time of day that you use electricity impacts how much carbon emissions are produced. Electricity is less carbon intensive during times when more energy from renewable sources is produced, like when the sun is out or the wind is blowing. In addition, electricity becomes more carbon intensive when there is higher demand for energy by homes and businesses, which can cause stress on the regional electric grid and require the use of less efficient power plants to meet demand. To meet a sudden surge in demand, peaker plants powered by dirtier energy sources will be deployed by utilities.
- Electrify your home. Electrification means fully or partially switching from technologies that directly use fossil fuel to those that use electricity. As electricity is increasingly produced from low-carbon sources such as wind and solar, shifting from technologies that use fossil fuels to those that use electricity will often reduce emissions. Natural gas is the source of space and water heating for a majority of households. While natural gas produces less carbon emissions than coal, it is still a fossil fuel that produces carbon emissions when burned and leaks methane gasas it is transported through pipelines.
- Increase your use of renewable energy. To do this you can opt into your utility’s greenest energy rate, enroll in Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), and/or invest in rooftop solar.
Have questions about the challenge or how to participate? Leave a comment below or send us an email at email@example.com!