In 2020, 26% of U.S. households — or 32.25 million out of 123.53 million households — used electricity as their sole energy source, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But what the EIA doesn’t note is what powers this “electricity as the sole power source.”
Electricity as the “single” source of energy for households
Conversely, this means that 74% of US homes used electricity and directly used at least one other fuel, such as natural gas, oil, propane or wood, in 2020. The most common fuel combination was natural gas and electricity, which were used exclusively in 55% of American homes.
Florida and Hawaii led the pack in using electricity for energy. A whopping 77% of Florida homes (6.2 million) are electric-only, and 72% of homes in Hawaii are fully electric, with a considerably smaller number of 0.34 million.
This would therefore mean, for example, only paying an electricity bill; not paying a natural gas and electricity bill.
When you look at the map below, you see the North-South power consumption pattern. With the exception of Washington State, which is undergoing a major push to move homes to all-electric — in May it became the first state to mandate all-electric heating in new buildings, for example — the majority electric-only households are in the South.
In colder states, space and water heating equipment tends to run on natural gas, oil or propane. However, expect to see this trend change as more and more people switch from fossil fuel-fired water heaters to air-source heat pump water heaters and space heaters. There are state and federal incentives for households to make this switch, and natural gas, propane, and kerosene are very expensive right now.
Just search for “heat pump incentives”, for example, and the whole page is filled with incentives, especially in the northeastern states. My heat pump water heater technician here in Vermont told me that they install heat pumps like crazy.
First of all, I must stress the fact that direct use of electricity often means indirect use of fossil fuelsbecause it depends on what your utility uses as a power source.
Example: When we lived in Florida, we were all electric. We had an HVAC system – isn’t everyone in Florida? – cooked on an electric hob, and had instantaneous electric water heaters.
We switched to Arcadia Energy as a stopgap solution for our electricity because Duke Energy sucks when it comes to using fossil fuels: company-wide wind and solar power generation in 2021 barely exceeded 5%. If we had stayed in Florida, we would have installed solar panels on the roof.
The natural gas company put up signs in our neighborhood encouraging people to use their “clean” energy. It was a pure lie.
Now we live in Vermont. We moved into a house powered by propane. So we quickly replaced the old propane water heater with an air source heat pump water heater – a Rheem, and it’s a beauty. It costs $104 a year to operate, so we’ll quickly get back what we paid for it.
Our utility is now called Green Mountain Power, which says it’s 100% carbon-free – mostly hydro and nuclear – and over 68% renewable.
Our next step is to super-insulate this house, upgrade to a heat pump and install solar. (I’m waiting for solar quotes now, and yes, heat pumps work in New England. My awesome electrician in Vermont just installed one.)
We inherited a Vermont Radiance propane stove which is intended to be used as a backup heater in the event of a power outage. We want to trade it in for a wood stove, and there are state and federal incentives to do that. In fact, Vermont has all kinds of state incentives for clean energy. Florida had…none.
If your home is already 100% electric but your utility company relies heavily on fossil fuels, the positive effect of eliminating direct fossil fuel use is reduced. Find out what your utility uses as a source of energy and actively lobby for it to move towards using renewable energy.
Directly stopping the direct use of fossil fuels helps your wallet, your health and the environment. This is a very important step in the right direction.
Read more: Heat pump market will more than double to $13 billion in cold climates by 2031
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