California’s electricity use has remained flat for the past four decades, while consumption has tripled in the rest of the United States, a result that could be caused by a combination of high prices, stringent energy efficiency regulations and unique demographics in the state.
The average Californian uses about 33 percent less electricity at home than the average American living in the rest of the country, reported the Washington Post. Electricity use per capita in California doubled in the 1960s and has remained relatively flat ever since. Meanwhile, household use in the rest of the US has more than tripled, climbing past 12,000 kWh per person on average.
A number of theories abound has to what has caused the disparity between California and the rest of the country. Stricter standards on appliances and home insulation, utility regulations that promote energy efficiency as well as some of the highest retail electricity prices in the country are considered factors in the disparity, reported the Washington Post.
Georgetown economist Arik Levinson argues in a working paper that long-term demographic trends, not efficiency standards, are likely responsible. More Americans are moving to warmer regions in the South and West, where air conditioning use is much higher (see chart), he says.
The number of people per household has narrowed over the past 50 years, while California’s household size has remained flat over the same period, he says. An individual living in a home uses more energy than a person sharing a residence with others.
The US is consuming energy more efficiently and generating fewer emissions than just five years ago thanks to modern technologies that are changing decades-old patterns, says research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance and industry group the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in a February 2013 report.
The Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook argues energy efficiency is making a major impact, and as a result energy demand has fallen steeply.