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Electricity’s downs and ups

May 31, 2017

Household electricity use in the US is declining. (Click on graph, left.) The sharper part of the curve is due to the conversion to LED lighting. But the savings from more efficient appliances shouldn’t be discounted entirely, and Trump wants to cut the ratings program that has made them so.

That curve might turn back up when we start charging our cars at home. Which is good overall, since it represents a shift from internal combustion engines and gasoline. The more interesting change will come when home batteries enable the average home to go entirely off the grid.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 31, 2017 11:15 am

    I am not as optimistic as you are about this trend continuing for a number of reasons. I am also not as optimistic about the transition to electric vehicles.

    First is regional differences. For example here in Maine the power companies are pushing to get people to switch from oil fired home heating to electric heat pumps. That sort of change would more than double electric usage here.

    Second is the economics of switching to battery storage and off-grid homes. Again this will be highly regional. In sunny places people may be able to get by with a solar array and wind generators IF they are very careful about using air conditioning. However, it is very expensive to convert a home from grid sourced power to off-grid with battery backup. Even considering the long term, most people simply can not afford the cost to go off grid or even grid-tied.

    Electric cars are an other area where economics is a major limiting factor. Until the cost of electric cars (with decent range) comes down to the same as gas/diesel powered cars at the lower end of the price range, there will not be wide spread use of electric personal vehicles. Even then, a large fraction of people will not be able to afford an electric car since those same people can not now afford a new/newer gas/diesel car. Until electric cars have been around in sufficient numbers for long enough to make a significant penetration into the used car market, wide spread use of electric personal vehicles simply won’t happen. The current tax credits don’t help at all in this since they simply reduce owed taxes and can not be carried forward. Hence many people get zero or very little benefit from those tax credits. I am a good example of that since my income is structured so I do not pay income tax. Consequently I would get zero benefit from the current electric vehicle tax credit. Personally I also have my doubts of the viability of electric vehicles for rural locations in cold climates.

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