Trend: We’re plugging in more gadgets
In 1978, the average American home had one TV. According to a survey by the Energy Information Administration in 2009, that number has increased to 2.5 televisions. Perhaps even more interesting, half of all homes surveyed had a TV larger than 37 inches.
In addition to TVs, think about how many computers, laptops, tablets, radios, game consoles and other rechargeable devices you have plugged in at home. Just ten years ago, this number was probably far smaller. With this in mind, it might surprise you that total energy usage for the average American home has actually dropped over the past 30 years.
It’s not that these new electronic devices don’t use energy, but that the energy mix has changed. In the late 70s, appliances and electronics accounted for about 17 percent of household energy usage. In 2005, that number was up to 31 percent.
So how has overall energy usage declined? We are plugging in more items, but, in general, they are more energy efficient than their predecessors. For example, the switch to modern flat screen TVs and computer monitors represented a substantial increase in energy efficiency.
Global energy usage is still on the rise. The United States is the second largest consumer of energy in the world, just slightly behind China. The federal government is encouraging action to lower energy usage and so is our state. Just last year, the state of Alaska made a pledge calling for a 15 percent increase in energy efficiency based on 2010 numbers by 2020.
It would seem GVEA members have already picked the low hanging fruit. Since 2005, average monthly residential electric usage has gone down approximately 100 kilowatt-hours.
There is always room for improvement, though. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next decade as we continue to find new ways to conserve.