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The following table and plot illustrate changes in usage of electricity, gasoline, coal, etc. with respect to changing population. Apparent in the following table is the dramatic increase in residential energy use relative to the population change during that period. Use of coal and natural gas required to generate that additional electricity has also increased, though coal used for electricity is not specific to residential consumption. Consumer gasoline consumption has slightly outpaced population growth.

Residential Energy Use 1983-2005

A natural target for conservation efforts is therefore in the residential electricity sector. The increased per-capita consumption apparent in the plot below has not resulted in a significantly higher standard of living–at least not in the past few decades. I have not studied post-WWII rural electrification, etc., so can’t comment on per-capita increases during the 40s through the 60s. But I do know that during my childhood in small-town Idaho in the 70’s, my family had electric lights and a refrigerator despite not having a lot of money. Based on this unscientific study, I would suggest that people haven’t gotten happier because of increased electricity consumption. With the availability of energy efficient appliances, heating/cooling units, lighting, etc., significant energy savings are achievable without requiring painful changes in lifestyle.

New Energy Information Administration (eia.gov) statistics from the 2005 Residential Energy Survey will be released within the next few months, and will provide a detailed breakdown of household energy consumption. With the burgeoning use of consumer electronics, this should be very interesting.

Electricity and Population Growth 1948 - 2005

[refs. 8, 10, 11]

Sources for the above:

5. Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, Annual Energy Review 2006. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/contents.html
Table 5.13a Estimated Petroleum Consumption: Residential and Commercial Sectors, 1949-2006
6. Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, Annual Energy Review 2006. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/contents.html
Table 6.5 Natural Gas Consumption by Sector, 1949-2006
7. Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, Annual Energy Review 2006. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/contents.html
Table 8.5a Consumption of Combustible Fuels for Electricity Generation: Total (All Sectors), Selected Years, 1949-2006
8. Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy, Annual Energy Review 2006. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/aer/contents.html
Table 8.9 Electricity End Use, Selected Years, 1949-2006
9. Energy Information Administration, US Department of Energy. U.S. Total Gasoline All Sales/Deliveries by Prime Supplier (Thousand Gallons per Day) http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_sum_mkt_dcu_nus_m.htm
10. U.S. Census Bureau. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/hist_stats.html No. HS-1. Population: 1900 to 2002
11. U.S. Census Bureau. The Statistical Abstract 2007: The National Data Book. http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/population/
Table 11 – Resident Population by Age and Sex: 1980 to 20

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3 Comments

  1. the wesidte is actualy at:
    eia.doe.gov

    Wonder what the rate of growth for truck diesel was?

  2. Thank You to the person at Carbon Kids Blog, for doing the heavy plotting; and, for tipping us off to the chart. Great work..mean time ..plzz visit http://www.buzziboy,com and give ur comments. Thanks

  3. There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

    I’m Out! šŸ™‚


9 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Eco-Cide: Exploring Ecology on 21 Jun 2008 at 10:35 pm

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  3. […] Growth Tag: TreeHugger.com — TreeHugger @ 2:40 pm A kind Thank You to the person at Carbon Kids Blog, for doing the heavy plotting; and, for tipping us off to the chart. Great work in progress. We […]

  4. […] By nimicohgr • June 22, 2008 Image courtesy of Carbon Kids […]

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