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The State of U.S. Energy Consumption in 2021

by Point2 Editorial Staff
5 min. read

The pandemic has caused drastic changes across the globe. The way we work was particularly shaken, with masses of professionals finding themselves leaving office spaces and working from home. While this concept would have seemed impossible before 2020, the aftershocks are still being felt, including in terms of energy consumption.

Indeed, energy consumption dropped considerably in the U.S. across many sectors as the country went into lockdown. But how does this picture look today? To find out, our colleagues at CommercialCafe have released a study analyzing U.S. energy sales over the last two years. Here are their findings:

Only 3 States See a Y-o-Y Drop in Total Power Consumption

Across the country, only three states witnessed a drop in total power consumption; California, Florida and Arizona. Despite a 1% increase in commercial power consumption, California saw a 2% decline in total consumption as residential use dropped by an impressive 5% and industrial use by 3%.

Meanwhile, both Arizona and Florida recorded a total decrease of 1%. Arizona saw drops in industrial and residential energy use of 1% and 4%, respectively, despite a 3% increase in commercial energy consumption. In Florida, commercial and industrial usage increased by 2% and 3%, respectively, while residential consumption fell by 3%.

Most States See an Increase in Total Power Consumption

On the whole, however, most states have seen an increase in their total power consumption. At the higher end of the scale, Virginia recorded a 6% total increase, with a whopping 10% in commercial usage, 1% residential, and 4% industrial. This amounts to a total increase of 124 million MWh and exceeds the pre-pandemic high, suggesting that much of Virginia’s workforce may have returned to their place of work.

North Carolina also boasted impressive gains, with a total of 136 million MWh in 2021, resulting in a 5% y-o-y growth. Here, the most significant increases were in the industrial sector, which rose by 8%, while both commercial and residential energy consumption increased by 4%.

A New Way of Working: Commercial Energy Consumption Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

With many companies switching to hybrid or fully remote working models, nationwide commercial consumption still hasn’t matched pre-pandemic levels. This is despite seeing the highest year-on-year growth, with record-breaking jumps in usage compared to last year.

As workers returned to the office in 2021, commercial energy consumption increased by 9% in the second quarter. This resulted in total annual energy sales of 1.32 billion MWh for the commercial sector, a boost of 37 million MWh.

However, such growth has not yet been enough to match consumption levels in 2019 — although some months in 2021, such as June, August and November, did see commercial energy consumption rates marginally higher than in 2019.

How New Work Habits Impact Energy Consumption

These mixed results aren’t too surprising when delving deeper. Commercial energy consumption is dependent on how companies conduct business. Corporations such as Adobe, for example, have indicated that they will adopt a hybrid model, with employees able to spend up to 50% of their time working remotely.

Meanwhile, Comcast is committed to returning all employees to its Philadelphia-based office. In addition, other companies are looking into the possibility of partnering up with coworking spaces in cities such as New York, San Francisco and Atlanta.

Virginia Sees the Largest Commercial Energy Increases

When looking at state level, Virginia saw the largest commercial energy consumption, an increase of 10%, consuming an additional 5.4 million MWh in 2021 compared to 2020. Indeed, this figure is more than 5 million MWh higher than the 2019 total, setting a new decade-long record for the state.

Industrial Energy Usage: Ups and Downs Across the Country

In 2020, the industrial energy sector saw the biggest drop in usage nationwide. The hardest-hit areas were the Midwestern states of Indiana and Minnesota, which saw huge 15% decreases in power usage across their respective manufacturing sectors. In 2021, things started to improve, though many areas continued to see industrial energy usage drop.

Washington was the most severely affected in 2021, with drops of 6%, or 1.2 million MWh. New Jersey wasn’t far behind, reducing industrial energy consumption by 351K MWh, a 5% drop. Texas saw the highest reduction in energy sales rather than percentages, with a decrease of 3.4 million MWh, amounting to a 3% decline for the state. This left Texas still 10 million MWh lower than pre-pandemic figures. California also saw a 3% decrease in industrial energy usage.

On the other end of the spectrum, North and South Carolina saw significant increases, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky. South Carolina took the lead with a 9% increase, seeing total industrial energy usage rise by 2.3 million MWh and exceeding its 2019 figure. Tennessee and North Carolina both recorded an increase of 8%, while Kentucky’s industrial power consumption rose by 7% compared to 2020.

Household Power Usage Fluctuates

While all other sectors saw declines throughout 2020, residential energy consumption witnessed a 2% increase, with an extra 24 million MWh being used by households across the country. Spikes during the first lockdowns were basically a direct result of people spending more time at home and eventually working from their residences. In 2021, this trend continued, with a further increase of 12 million MWh, making an annual total of 1.47 billion MWh.

Interestingly, Georgia recorded a reduction in residential power usage in 2020. However, a 2% increase in 2021 saw the state return to pre-pandemic levels. Residential energy consumption in California decreased by 5% in 2021 compared to 2020, though it still remained at a higher level than at the beginning of the pandemic.

With a 4% drop in household power usage, Arizona was the only state to see a decrease in residential consumption in 2021.


Interested in the office or shared spaces market in the areas mentioned in this study? Check out the links below:

Coworking in California
Coworking in Florida
Coworking in Arizona
Coworking in Virginia
Coworking in North Carolina
Coworking in Washington
Coworking in New Jersey
Coworking in Texas
Coworking in Georgia

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