Tuesday 20 December 2011

How Much Electricity does the Average House Use?

Q: How Much Electricity does the Average House Use?

When putting the scale of a renewable energy development into context, it is common to state something like “this would provide electricity for” followed by a number of houses.  So what is the electricity consumption of a household?

One way to get at the number is to use the energy reporting from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).  Their Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) is a mine of information relating to energy.

Specifically, Chapter 5 deals with electricity and Table 5B shows domestic electricity sales for 2009.

Domestic sector electricity sales (Great Britain)              112,064 GWh
Number of domestic customers                                  26,987,000           (based on number of meters)

Dividing the first figure by the second gives a value for the average electricity use of a house.

A: 4,150 kWh/year

Q: How About Electricity Use per Person?

When you’re not at home, you’re probably still using electricity.  At work?  You need to power your computer, telephone, air-con, lights.  Sitting in the cinema munching popcorn?  Pay your share of the electricity to run the projector and the electricity to pop that corn.

On top of this, the goods you consume used electricity to extract, process, manufacture, package and transport them to the point where you buy them.

Domestic electricity use only accounts for 27% of the total, but the rest that is used in agriculture, industry and public administration is only there because you are.

Without getting bogged down worrying about the “balance of trade” in energy – that is that the UK imports more energy intensive goods and materials than it exports, it is possible to get an estimate for the electricity used per head of population as follows.

Total UK electricity consumption:             328,318  GWh                    (DUKES Table 5.1)

UK Population:                                           62.219 million                     (Google public data)

Again, divide one by the other to get electricity use per person
A: 5,276 kWh/year