Monday Study: The Pandemic Electricity Bill
Americans Spent $5 Billion More on Home Electricity During Pandemic
December 9, 2020 (Ownerly)
Americans saw their average household electric bill go up nearly 4% in the six months since pandemic restrictions began in March, according to an analysis by Ownerly.
With millions of Americans shifting work and school to the home nine months into the pandemic, what impact has that had on their monthly electricity cost? To determine state average household electric bills and how they compared to the same time period in 2019, Ownerly examined data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) from March, when many states issued COVID-19-related restrictions, through August, the most recent data available.
In total, American households spent $5 billion more on electricity from March through August 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019.
Post-pandemic residential power usage was 36.6 billion kilowatt-hours more than March through August 2019—roughly equivalent to the annual output of nine Hoover Dams or 16 million wind turbines, according to EIA data.
Nationally, the average monthly electric bill was $122.92 from March through August—up 3.8% from the same period last year; total electric usage, however, was up 5%.
States with the highest average post-pandemic monthly bill were Connecticut ($171.10), Arizona ($163.26), Hawaii ($160.38), Alabama ($152.40) and Texas ($146.77).
States with the highest percentage increase compared to March through August 2019 were Vermont (20.8%), Michigan (14.4%), New Mexico (14.1%), Arizona (12.2%) and California (12.1%).
Areas with the lowest average monthly bill from March through August 2020 were Washington ($87.48) Utah ($88.57), Idaho ($90.50), the District of Columbia ($91.65) and Wyoming ($92.12).
Electric bills didn’t necessarily go up post-pandemic compared to 2019 figures. Areas where average bills decreased year-on-year include the District of Columbia (-9.6%), Hawaii (-5.6%), Louisiana (-4.2%), South Carolina (-3.3%) and Georgia (-2.9%).
“Besides more people using electricity at home, other factors at play in determining bills include differences in regional heating and cooling days compared to the spring and summer of 2019 as well as local costs for power generation,” said Michael Pugh, a data analyst for Ownerly.
Domestic energy usage tends to spike in July and August and again in January as home-heating begins to increase. “As we’re facing our first COVID-19 winter, we’ll undoubtedly see consumer utility costs rise as many Americans continue to work and attend school from home,” Pugh said. Nationwide, the EIA predicts Americans will use 7.6% more electricity and 7.9% more natural gas this winter compared to last year.
To determine monthly electric bills by state, Ownerly examined residential estimated electricity use and sales data from the US Energy Information Administration from March through August 2020 and March through August 2019…
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