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Power Demand From US Homes Expected To Fall For a Decade

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the now-keep-pace-canada dept.

Earth 261

We hear all the time that household energy consumption is rising, both in the U.S. and around the world. That's been true in the big picture for several decades at least, but reader captainkoloth, with his first accepted submission, points to an Associated Press article with some encouraging news on this front: the rate of growth in U.S. household energy use, and household energy use itself, is expected to decline slightly over the next 10 years. Take it for what you will, but that conclusion is drawn by the Electric Power Research Institute, "a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."

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Not a huge surprise (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362164)

As the last of the vacuum tubes (incandescent light bulbs and CRTs) get phased out, power consumption goes down. Now if we could just find a way to get rid of (most) fractional horsepower motors.

Who cares if it is his first accepted submission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362256)

Stop wasting letters on those announcements. It is not what I come here to read.

Re:Who cares if it is his first accepted submissio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362406)

Seconded.

I do. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362486)

Who cares if it is his first accepted submission

I do. Probably other's do as well. The whole world doesn't just revolve around you. In fact, when I jump, the world moves up to meet my feet!

Re:Who cares if it is his first accepted submissio (2)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362774)

They are encouraging first time submitters. There has been a dearth of timely submissions lately. I'm for it. A bunch of the most prolific submitters like "twitter" have been harassed away, and somebody's got to submit this stuff.

I wonder if declining power requirements of homes have anything to do with declining power needs of computers, the migration to LCD TVs, proliferation of heat pumps and so on - or if it's just a tough economy finally driving folks to adjust the thermostat.

Re:Not a huge surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362262)

CFL have more in common with vacuum tubes than incandescent lights. So do microwave ovens.

Re:Not a huge surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362458)

A microwave oven uses much less energy overall than a resistive load in a standard oven.

It's effectiveness as a cooking device is somewhat questionable though.

Re:Not a huge surprise (5, Interesting)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362268)

California's per capita electricity use has been nearly level for decades [thinkprogress.org] due to their energy efficiency standards. Now that similar standards are being adopted nationwide, nationwide electricity use is leveling off. If we try even harder, we can reduce electricity use. Not only does it not harm the economy, it helps us all save money because we're paying for less energy, and we're paying less per unit of energy because demand is lower.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362298)

It won't save money, because the utility companies will just raise rates to compensate for falling revenue.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362420)

It won't save money, because the utility companies will just raise rates to compensate for falling revenue.

Supply and demand prevents this from happening without someone gaming the system (which is illegal but did happen in CA 10 years ago).

Re:Not a huge surprise (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362754)

Um... utility companies have a legal monopoly. They have already gamed the system and are outside of the free market.

Re:Not a huge surprise (3, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362454)

You can use a little power as you like, the network costs will get you.

Re:Not a huge surprise (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362518)

There are minimum expenses, you have to have towers sufficient for at least one transmission line pretty much no matter how little your consumption. But, if you halved the power consumption you should be able to at least cut the transmission capacity by a third, if not a full half. And every line you run has to be maintained and every bit of capacity has to be paid for by somebody.

Ultimately, it tends to be better to have the utilities owned by the local government than a for profit entity because any "profits" can at least be sure of going back into the infrastructure. That's how it's been around here for ages and our price and quality is quite good. Price isn't entirely fair because we do have hydroelectric dams to provide power, but even as we've demolished them the price has still remained lower than most other parts of the country.

The thing which really hurt us was when Enron cheater our utilities out of that money when they went under.

Re:Not a huge surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362688)

Until the lack of use eats into their profits, then they just raise their prices to make up the difference....and then some.

Re:Not a huge surprise (4, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362780)

Not only does it not harm the economy, it helps us all save money because we're paying for less energy, and we're paying less per unit of energy because demand is lower.

Maybe in California, but some parts of the country have seen almost [ksdk.com] yearly [stltoday.com] rate increases [linncountyleader.com] , so cutting your energy usage by 30% doesn't help much when they raise rates 30%.

Re:Not a huge surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362916)

won't someone think of PG&E?!? If I use less electricity, PG&E will lose income. We need to subsidize their income with a little wealth redistribution - aka increased rates!

Re:Not a huge surprise (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362910)

I'm positive the exact opposite will occur. Again using California as an example, examine their water conservation efforts. First, water utilities actually raised their rates in order to promote "conservation" [latimes.com] (making water unaffordable is not the same as conservation). Then, as the economy tanked AND usage dropped, water utilities raised rates in order to offset decreased revenues [nctimes.com] .

I'm all for conservation, but with union strangleholds on these industries, the government in bed with the unions, all on top of campaigns by reckless anti-progress environmentalists and NIMBYs, things are only going to go from bad to worse. Every time a new round of environmental regulations gets handed down by a government (who despises electricity generation but wants to keep all the lights on), generation stations must be retooled or closed, both meaning higher costs for consumers.

The reality is drops in power demand aren't primarily from conservation efforts: they're from the high cost of energy and the steady decay of American manufacturing, particularly on the west coast.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362286)

What a lot of people don't realize about CFL's is that they can have really fucking poor power factors, we are talking in the region of 0.3 for the really cheap ones, so you may only be getting billed for 20W but the power company is feeling the burn of 60. Add to that the fact that they are essentially an attempt to cram a LPMV lamp into a really awkward form factor (because for some reason having a strip light in the living room is unthinkable, but having it as a point source and then wrapping a shade round it to diffuse the light is fine) subjectively poor spectrum, mercury content (I know it's not a lot, but if I cant have lead in my solder you can't have mercury in your bulbs) and poor performance in cold weather they are a really a bad solution to an already solved problem.

Re:Not a huge surprise (5, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362508)

What a lot of people don't realize about CFL's is that they can have really fucking poor power factors, we are talking in the region of 0.3 for the really cheap ones, so you may only be getting billed for 20W but the power company is feeling the burn of 60.

If by 'burn' you mean transmission losses then yes. If you mean 'burn' as in they have to actually produce 60W to run a 20W CFL then no, power factor does not work that way.

Power factor comes from the fact that CFLs are not a purely resistive load. But energy stored in a capacitor or inductor is not lost. It is returned to the grid. Your utility does need extra equipment to manage apparent vs real power and make their distribution more efficient (mostly eliminating the one downside of low power factor, but that's as far as it goes (and they already have this equipment).

Power factor as a negative of CFLs is a complete red herring, and whoever told you it was a big deal was taking advantage of you in order to slander a fine energy-saving technology. In reality all you can say is that there advantage over incandescents is slightly less great.

Re:Not a huge surprise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362578)

Returned to the grid arbitrarily out of phase, which requires utility companies to employ large PFC installations and / or take the hit with extra generating capacity. Suggesting that widespread adoption of low power factor equipment is a non-issue is just another attempt at green-washing with bullshit.

Re:Not a huge surprise (5, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362710)

Returned to the grid arbitrarily out of phase, which requires utility companies to employ large PFC installations and / or take the hit with extra generating capacity.

Only to compensate for the extra line loss! Which is important, but small compared to the real power consumed. You can measure watts produced at a generator, volt-amps in the load, and power in the load and see that the power produced by the generator is only slightly more than the real power consumed by the load. Implying that it is more, that CFLs don't save power and use the full volt-amps worth of power even with 0 PFC is pure ignorant bullshit FUD.

But they do have PFC installed.

Suggesting that widespread adoption of low power factor equipment is a non-issue is just another attempt at green-washing with bullshit.

We're just talking about low-power usage lighting when the PF for the home will be dominated by HVAC and large appliances. Acting like the claim that PF is a red herring for CFLs is the same as saying it's a non-issue if your whole house was running a low PF is just a bullshit way to cover for you getting called out on your flagrant ignorance.

Re:Not a huge surprise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362770)

Generators output is measured in VA's not Watts. I could short a 1 GVA generator through a huge capacitor and generate no real power, while still burning 1GW worth of coal.

Re:Not a huge surprise (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362826)

A capacitor isn't a short, and where do you think the energy goes in this situation with no real power consumed?

Re:Not a huge surprise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362892)

No your right, it isn't a short because it would (ideally) have no real (resistive) component , but current would flow because a suitably selected (i.e. very large) capacitor would have a very low impedance. This energy would be stored and "returned" to the generator when the voltage appearing on the capacitors charged plates was greater than the voltage attempting to drive current through the capacitor. So the energy in this case would be consumed in the resistive heating of the generators coils, no real power would be developed in an ideal capacitor because P=I^2R and in this case R=0 (the impedance Z however would not be equal to zero)

I suggest you learn some basic electrical engineering theory before calling me out on power factor mr burke.

Re:Not a huge surprise (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362736)

CFL power factor depends on the quality of the ballast. Right now the issue is unimportant because the impact of CFL on the overall residential power factor is negligible. However as (if) CFL adoption starts to impact this expect Energy Star to start including power factor in their assessments.

   

Re:Not a huge surprise (5, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362594)

What a lot of people don't realize about CFL's is that they can have really fucking poor power factors, we are talking in the region of 0.3 for the really cheap ones, so you may only be getting billed for 20W but the power company is feeling the burn of 60. Add to that the fact that they are essentially an attempt to cram a LPMV lamp into a really awkward form factor (because for some reason having a strip light in the living room is unthinkable, but having it as a point source and then wrapping a shade round it to diffuse the light is fine) subjectively poor spectrum, mercury content (I know it's not a lot, but if I cant have lead in my solder you can't have mercury in your bulbs) and poor performance in cold weather they are a really a bad solution to an already solved problem.

While it's true that CFL's can have bad power factors, it's not quite as bad for the power companies as it sounds.

First, regardless of the PF, a 20W CFL uses 20W of energy, the power company doesn't have to burn 60W of coal to feed your .3 PF 20W bulb - they only burn 20W of coal.

It is true that they have higher current draw from a CFL due to the 60VA apparent load, but that doesn't really matter since for most homes, lighting energy is dwarfed by other uses, so the power infrastructure to your home is sized to handle your 3000W oven heating element and 7000W tankless water heater. Granted, the low PF can lead to higher resistive losses in wiring, but not nearly enough to erase the gain in efficiency by moving from incandescent to CFL's.

Large commercial installations with hundreds or thousands of lamps do take the power factor into account and size the electrical infrastructure accordingly. Those that are billed by power factor can use power factor correction to correct the power factor (or use high PF lamps), and still save money due to the efficiency of CFL's. Labor costs alone in reduced bulb replacement make CFL's a good deal for business with a lot of lights.

Poor power factors are nothing new - many newer computer power supplies have built-in PFC to give them a decent PF, but older power supplies could dip to around .6.

Re:Not a huge surprise (4, Informative)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362534)

Now if we could just find a way to get rid of (most) fractional horsepower motors.

Make that fixed speed, single phase fractional horsepower motors. Three phase motors are more efficient. And even more system efficiencies can be squeezed out by varying motor speed to match the mechanical load.

As power semiconductor prices come down, small variable frequency drives (VFD) will become common. These take single phase input and produce variable frequency, multiple phase outputs for a motor and provide power factor correction and other efficiency improving functions as well.

Re:Not a huge surprise (5, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362586)

Fractional HP motors are not the problem. Bad motors are a problem. Case in point, the circulation pump on a solar installation used a 1/10th HP pump. The pump drew about 300 watts or about the energy of 1/2 hp. The pump was replaced with a DC brushless motor. A single 60 watt PE panel was placed on the roof. Now when the sun shines on the collector the pump runs. This eliminated the differential thermostat controller and 3/4 of the power use to circulate the water. It removed 100% of the need for utility power to run the pump.

The move was made for two reasons. One was power efficiency. The other was for reliability. The old system would boil over in a power outage. The new one is unaffected by power outages.

Re:Not a huge surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362614)

So you want to get rid of my electric lawnmower? You'll replace it with what, a gas burning one?

Re:Not a huge surprise (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362714)

I grew up pushing a manual lawnmower every week during summer. It worked just great.

Probably true (5, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362184)

If you can't afford to pay the light bill, your electricity consumption is going to decrease sharply.

Re:Probably true (2)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362484)

That was my first thought as well. I wonder how the housing market would correlate to electricity demand? But it would seem that more empty houses would = a decrease in demand, to me. I bet shipping all our manufacturing overseas cuts demand, as well.

But seriously, if your money is tight and there is no sign of a raise in site, the only way to free up money is to cut your bills. If are hovering around minimum wage, you could almost have the choice of an air conditioner or using fan, and being able to afford gas for your car and some food.

That should be a problem in the US... (1)

jopsen (885607) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362756)

I doubt that the economy is to blame, is probably just that for some obscure reason(1), your products are getting more energy efficient.

This summer, I was on vacation in California/Nevada/etc. basically driving from hotel to hotel... And oh the horrors we saw (energy wise), every single room had it's own air conditioning, but then again I suppose central systems are for communists, right :)
Many places they were also "bright" enough to put the fridge in a closet without ventilation holes, granted I couldn't hear it, but I'm certain it was running all the time :)

(1) I doubt the reason can be environmental taxes, as I noticed your gasoline is half price (compared to the EU).

Re:Probably true (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362806)

It's BOTH the economy and more efficient products -- but MOSTLY it's the recession.

Consumers aren't the ONLY ones using electricity. However -- why is the COST not going down?

I'll answer that with a RELATED bit of information I came across;
3 Years ago, the amount of refined oil products (like gas and plastics) that was imported was about 3 Billion barrels per day. Now, we export about 1/2 Billion barrels of Gas per day.

The real value of the dollar, the decreasing usage of transportation (as people DON'T go to the job they DON'T have), means that the USA is a net gas exporter again -- and the media and the ticker tape parades were silent!

>> So WHY is the gas price at the pump going up? Commodities Futures! Speculation about what might happen to prices and demand -- or really, it's the oil companies backing their own speculators, and buying the oil to constrain demand -- also, the PRICE is not really anything more than what they want to charge, based on how much we will tolerate paying -- there isn't any real pressure to lower the price other than alternative energy or walking to work.

Re:Probably true (2)

Technician (215283) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362532)

You are correct that when the cost of energy rises and ways to conserve become affordable as a result, more investment in energy savings will be made.

I now have a HE washing machine. Almost all incandescent lamps have been replaced with either CF or LED, A PE installation is slowly growing as the cost per watt drops. Insulation has been added. Wall warts are replaced with switch mode instead of transformer type, and I moved to a better insulated home. Sold my old house in the housing bubble to upgrade to an energy efficient home. After moving, upgraded the older windows for better insulation.

In the last 6 years, my home energy use has been cut by about 2/3's. Some people only count the cost of their mortgage. I count the total cost. Cutting the electric from 250//month to 75/month was part of the budget.

Part of where I chose to live affects cost. Mild winters with few below freezing days in the winter and mild summers play a part of the annual energy cost. I have not had an over 100 degree F day this year. Only a few days reached into the 90's. I don't do severe summers or winters.

Headline is wrong then (2)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362186)

Power demand is not falling, increase in power demand is falling. Or is it increase in the speed of increase in power demand? Some derivative, anyway.

Re:Headline is wrong then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362214)

You are right. When I read the title, I thought the world has come to a stop.

Re:Headline is wrong then (1)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362428)

Read TFA. It says total household use is expected to decline in absolute terms, but this will be offset by increases in commercial/industrial use.

Re:Headline is wrong then (2)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362438)

According the TFA, they apparently do think that actual demand will also fall:

From 1980 to 2000, residential power demand grew by about 2.5 percent a year. From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry.

Of course, this is trusting the AP article to have accurately reported the information, which is probably unrealistic, but the headline's in line with the article.

Re:Headline is wrong then (4, Informative)

AdamHaun (43173) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362448)

Both are right. The rate of demand increase is falling and is expected to go negative in a few years. From the article:

Over the next decade, experts expect residential power use to fall, reversing an upward trend that has been almost uninterrupted since Thomas Edison invented the modern light bulb. ...

From 1980 to 2000, residential power demand grew by about 2.5 percent a year. From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry.

Overall demand, including from factories and businesses, is still expected to grow, but at only a 0.7 percent annual rate through 2035, the government says. That's well below the average of 2.5 percent a year the past four decades.

The article is actually pretty detailed and quantitative (at least for the AP). It lists the big drivers as being more efficient lighting and appliances, federal and state efficiency subsidies, and people trying to save money. Over the next couple decades they're projecting ~20-25% reduction in appliance energy use and ~50% reduction in lighting energy use.

Re:Headline is wrong then (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362592)

The article is actually pretty detailed and quantitative (at least for the AP). It lists the big drivers as being more efficient lighting and appliances, federal and state efficiency subsidies, and people trying to save money. Over the next couple decades they're projecting ~20-25% reduction in appliance energy use and ~50% reduction in lighting energy use.

#1 is probably refrigerators. They've increased tremendously in efficiency. #2 is probably air conditioners, same reason (but they are replaced less often).

Obviously (3, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362188)

US energy consumption is falling [typepad.com] even where it concerns oil, that's due to the inflation and thus higher prices in dollar amounts, though measured in gold, the oil is cheapest in history.

September 2009 â" Current (US Population 307,006,550)
Total input to refineries 14,600,000 Barrels per day
Total Imported Crude and products 11,721,000 Barrels per day
Total Imported Crude 9,223,000 Barrels per day
Total Domestic Oil Production 5,444,000 Barrels per day
Gasoline Consumed 8,779,000 Barrels per day
Diesel Fuel Consumed 4,099,000 Barrels per day

September 2004 - 5 years ago (US Population 293,045,739)

Registered vehicles: 243,010,539 Passenger Cars: 136,430,651 Comm Aircraft: 8,186
Total input to refineries 15,254,000 Barrels per day
Total Imported Crude and products 13,438,000 Barrels per day
Total Imported Crude 9,697,000 Barrels per day
Total Domestic Oil Production 5,062,000 Barrels per day
Gasoline Consumed 7,993,000 Barrels per day
Diesel Fuel Consumed

Also here is a graph [realitybase.org] of per-capita consumption.

It's not a surprise that energy consumption is falling in USA, as the population has less and less that it can spend because less and less is produced domestically. Same thing that is applied to oil can be extrapolated to all other forms of energy.

Re:Obviously (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362240)

If you are going to spout so many numbers, you should spout interesting ones.

Like what percentage of the median income has a typical household spent on energy over time (then you are basically comparing typical earning power to typical energy expenditures, you don't need to rant about monetary issues to do it).

Re:Obviously (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362272)

The only interesting numbers here are the ones that are showing total use, and this has everything to do with economics, which has everything to do with fiscal policy.

Total use is what people are able to spend on energy, which is part of their spending, and as more and more things are going up in price in dollars, people will still have to buy many of those things (food, shelter, clothing, medicine), they will have to cut where they can, and the first things to cut will be entertainment.

This means people go out less, they drive less, they also use less electrical power as they are looking for ways to save money to buy the absolute necessities.

Re:Obviously (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362684)

No, you're wrong. ZING!

Total use also includes efficiency. If total use of home heating oil is down, it MAY be due to people keeping their houses not as hot in the winter, or using less hot water. It MAY ALSO be due to people replacing their old oil furnaces and water heaters -- but not decreasing their usage of those devices.

IN REALITY.. it's probably a combination of the two.

I mean, damn. If I start using half as much gas as I used to, it is not absolutely because I am driving half as much as I used to. Maybe I just got a new car that gets twice as many miles to a gallon, and didn't decrease my driving habits at all. Very simple stuff here dude.

Re:Obviously (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362720)

Where do you see this 'efficiency' appearing from all of a sudden? People on fixed incomes are not making more money out of nowhere and they are seeing increase in basic living expenses, not a decrease.

ZING.

Sure, few people are spending more on making some political statements to buy hybrid vehicles for example, but in reality the cost of buying a new car is crazy high compared to cost of not buying a new car or buying an old one (of-course with Obama's cash for clunkers, the secondary market took a huge hit, but in reality that program only gave incentives for people who had pretty decent cars to replace them with newer cars because of the subsidy. People who had really bad cars didn't have money even with the subsidy to get new ones.)

There is no new efficiency. USA has a 53Billion USD/month trade deficit, half of which is energy and the other half is consumer goods. So productivity in USA is very low, efficiencies are very low, as there is no savings capital (again, thanks for inflation) to replace old tools with new ones.

With the increase of basic living expenses, who is buying more efficient anything? People are not spending on luxuries.

Re:Obviously (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362856)

Measured in gold almost everything is approaching its lowest price in living memory. The value of a US dollar is fast approaching 1/2000th a troy ounce of gold. The only things that seem to be keeping up with gold right now are silver and Apple stock.

Not the "rate of growth"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362196)

Stating that the "rate of growth" is going to decline doesn't mean the same thing as saying that the demand will decline. The rate of growth has been declining for years (from 2.5%/yr to 2%/yr over the last decade), but demand has still be rising. What the article claims is that the rate will actually become negative over the next decade, which means an absolute decline in demand.

Bad Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362202)

The headline says that power demand will fall for a decade, and this is correct from the article:

"Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."

The summary says that the rate of increase will decline, which would imply that total consumption would still rise.

LED TV, New Refrigerator, New Furnace (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362206)

We've replaced the broken tube TVs with LCD and now LED TVs. The old refrigerator broke and the new one laps it terms of efficiency. And the new furnace is better than the old one.

These things alone took our bills down 30-40%.

Add some switchable powerstrips for all the phantom draws of those power supplies and it gets even better.

Industry group or not, my experience jibes with their report.

Re:LED TV, New Refrigerator, New Furnace (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362260)

Exactly. And if energy prices go up, usually the number of people that feel it is worthwhile to increase insulation also goes up. And lots of other things.

Good (0)

nanamin (820638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362208)

Now maybe they can reverse that ridiculous incandescent light ban. CFL bulbs give me seizures and I have no viable alternative to incandescents. I'd rather not live in the dark.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362218)

The estimate is most likely made by factoring in the reduced dependence on incandescents BECAUSE of the ban.

Hopefully LEDs will get better & cheaper - I've been experimenting and doing some side-by-side comparisons, and I'm still not happy.

Re:Good (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362246)

LEDs. They don't strobe (neither does modern CFLs but never mind), you can get them in a range of tones from whitish neutral to mimicking incandescents, and they're getting cheap enough that changing to them as old bulbs burn out is perfectly feasible.

Re:Good (0)

nanamin (820638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362284)

Modern LED "replacement bulbs" are directional and too dim. They still have a long way to go. Also, if hooked up to alternating current or put on a dimmer, they most certainly do strobe. As for CFLs not strobing... everyone says that they flicker at 22 kHz or something ridiculous, but they give me instant seizures anyway, so I'm not quite convinced. I'm sorry, but it's not the government's business to be telling people what kind of lighting they can use in their own homes, *especially* before there is a *real* alternative. Even if they made an exception for people with health problems, it'll still be next to impossible for me to get these lights as there won't be much financial motivation for companies to continue producing them.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362358)

Use of normal bulbs should at least be banned in ac spaces.. Heating a room and then cooling it is just idiotic

In addition I say that to qualify for an air conditioner in new built houses it should be properly insulated and ventilated.

Re:Good (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362676)

On the other hand, winter time use of incandescent bulbs in the North should be encouraged. A not insignificant part of the electricity on the grid is provided by "clean" or renewable sources, while your typical oil heater most certainly isn't. Not to mention nasty and non-renewable stuff like mercury in the cold lights when you inevitably dispose of dead ones.

There are certainly more factors than just comparing wattage.

But if you really want to reduce wattage, get rid of that hot air clothes dryer that pumps hot air out of the building, and get a condensation dryer instead. An added benefit is that they don't wear out your clothes nearly as much, and by changing to hinged windows too, allows you insulate a house well enough to have a pressure differential with the outside. If the politicians were serious about saving electricity in the households, starting by banning hot air dryers and sliding windows would be better steps than banning incandescent bulbs.

There is NO incandescent light ban (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362370)

Despite what people are saying. There is an efficiency standard Which may preclude current incandescent bulbs but several major manufacters have plans to make incandescent bulbs that comply with the new efficiency standards. So you will still be able to source incandescent bulbs after the new standards take full effect

crazy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362404)

you need a shrink. it is in your head; you are not some freak of nature who is one in a million. You shouldn't be able to watch TV, movies, play video games, or likely even safely surf the web without going into seizures... How can you drive a car? go to any office building? hospital? dentist? FL bulbs pulse at high rates it is not just CFL.

What about a 120Hz TV? those strobe...

Submit yourself to an institution either to be medically studied or to have your head examined.

Re:crazy (1)

inglorion_on_the_net (1965514) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362426)

you are not some freak of nature who is one in a million

If it's one in a million, there are still thousands of people like that on Earth. Who's to say he isn't one of them?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362446)

So how do you look at a pc monitor?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362536)

LCD's don't strobe, do they?

Re:Good (1)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362698)

The backlights in them often do.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362504)

So because of you we should ban all CFLs? They don't give the vast majority of people "seizures," just you and a small minority of hypersensitive people who really have little scientific backing to their claims.

Now, if by seizure, you meant "fall on the ground, foam at the mouth and bite your tongue" [nih.gov] I might be a little more sympathetic. I think your idea of a seizure is more along the lines of a slight discomfort due to the perception of flashing light.

Re:Good (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362884)

They do have this effect on some few people. It must be horrible to have that condition. Not everybody needs ramps to get into a public building either, but they're still required on new construction.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362610)

Modern LED "replacement bulbs" are directional and too dim. They still have a long way to go. Also, if hooked up to alternating current or put on a dimmer, they most certainly do strobe.[/quote]

So do your incandescents, you normally can't perceive it unless the hertz rate is low enough, but they do.

As for CFLs not strobing... everyone says that they flicker at 22 kHz or something ridiculous, but they give me instant seizures anyway, so I'm not quite convinced.

We're not quite convinced about your seizures. Do you have a doctor's note?

I'm sorry, but it's not the government's business to be telling people what kind of lighting they can use in their own homes, *especially* before there is a *real* alternative. Even if they made an exception for people with health problems, it'll still be next to impossible for me to get these lights as there won't be much financial motivation for companies to continue producing them.

They made plenty of other exceptions in the law, so why wouldn't genuine medical needs be covered? Not that you've produced any evidence that you do have any, I swear I run into somebody claiming with no verification whatsoever that they go into horrid seizure whenever exposed to evil CFL's yet they really don't tell me what they do in life when going into stores. But the government isn't telling you what kind of lighting you can use in your own home. They're telling manufacturers what standards of performance their equipment has to meet.

You can use whatever you want in your home, no lightbulb inspector will ever visit you. You might get an electrical safety inspector, but that's different.

Re:Good (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362616)

As for CFLs not strobing... everyone says that they flicker at 22 kHz or something ridiculous, but they give me instant seizures anyway, so I'm not quite convinced.

Have you been blind tested for this? I.e. have you been subjected to both CFLs and other forms of illumination at the same color temperature without knowing beforehand which is which (and for double blind testing, the person flicking the switch not knowing either), and you get instant seizures from CFL only?

That would be very interesting, if so.

Re:Good (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362634)

As for CFLs not strobing... everyone says that they flicker at 22 kHz or something ridiculous, but they give me instant seizures anyway, so I'm not quite convinced.

It's probably because they're crap and while they nominally operate at 22kHz, the 60Hz leaks in as well.

Halogens are a better bet for less-crappy lighting, and are still legal. And their long life claims are less dubious.

Re:Good (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362296)

The last white LED bulb I saw was very blue, which was very harsh on my eyes. How have they managed to get round that?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362332)

Yeah, they get around it by you not being such a ninny.

Re:Good (1)

runningduck (810975) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362368)

By changing the color temperature of the light they produce.

Re:Good (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362512)

So why do you buy "white" LED bulbs? Buy the warm-toned ones. Or the ones where you can adjust the color temperature yourself.

Re:Good (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362732)

Because "white" should be the same color as daylight.

Re:Good (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362852)

Indeed. I have some 'daylight', 5500K CFLs, and they are ridiculously blue compared to incandescent.

Re:Good (0)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362342)

Metal Halide bulbs perhaps? They aren't banned, they're just not typically found in your home hardware section and are readily available from your electrical supply companies in your area.

Re:Good (2)

Squirmy McPhee (856939) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362528)

Now maybe they can reverse that ridiculous incandescent light ban.

There is no incandescent light ban, despite what Joe Barton (who co-sponsored the "ban" in the first place) would like you to believe. There is only a mandate for lights to become more efficient -- there is nothing in the law mandating that a particular lighting technology be phased in or out. In the end, it is likely a moot point anyway as market forces (partly as a result of European regulations, which the US Congress can do nothing about) have been pushing incandescent bulb manufacturers to close factories. In other words, with or without the law, incandescents are on the way out.

Like others, I would suggest LEDs. The prices are coming down fast, and the quality (and directionality, or lack thereof) is improving fast. Right now you still have to be pretty careful about what brand you buy and such -- the cheapest available bulb is likely to disappoint -- but by the time you have a hard time finding the incandescents you need I suspect LEDs will be much more viable.

Re:Good (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362792)

Of course, there's the fact that CFL efficiency is directly related to the cleanliness of the power grid it's drawing from and when put on the standard dirty grid CFL life isn't any longer than incandescent, and many times shorter.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362542)

I keep seeing comments like this. I don’t believe them.

I think Americans don’t like being ordered to do things (like buy energy-efficient bulbs), and they invent all kinds of spurious reasons why they should be allowed to buy incandescent bulbs, (or drive gas-guzzlers, or burn environmentalists for fuel).

Incandescent lights NOT banned (2)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362554)

As we discussed in an earlier article, incandescent lights are not being banned. Only low efficiency lights are being banned. Higher efficiency incandescents are available now but the cost more (surprise!).

Where are these bulbs? (3, Insightful)

cnaumann (466328) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362682)

Even today's 'high efficiency' halogen lights only produce about 10 lumens per watt. By 2020, all general purpose lights must produce 45 lumens per watt. This effectivly bans all current forms of incandescent lights.

Not overly surprising (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362278)

There's been a big push for more energy efficiency in the corporate/business sector. This stuff tends to trickle down to the consumer level after a bit, so that's what we're seeing here.

Use of devices is probably increasing, but said devices use a fraction of the power they did even a decade ago, so it makes sense that overall consumption per household would fall.

Think about it; how many of you have washers that are 5 years or older? 10? My washer and drier are over 20 years old. I plan on replacing them soon, which will significantly reduce my power draw.

This just in! (1)

Hardtrance (55355) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362304)

Your electric rates are going up!

Convergence. (1)

Bruce McBruce (791094) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362320)

It probably helps to some extent that we're seeing something of a shift towards devices which join multiple technologies in the one object. Our phones are also our daily cameras, our music players, our portable gaming consoles, etc. Instead of charging a crapton of different things, we're charging one little smartphone. Same goes for TV's, especially as they're working on energy efficiency pretty heavily lately.

Re:Convergence. (1)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362650)

I've found the REAL reason costs are going down. Say your camera, ipod, psp, cellphone, smartphone, etc all take about 2 watts to run. So if you combine them you go from 8 watts to 2. Great! but if before you used each device 1 hour a day, you now use your replacement (smartphone) 4 hours a day so you still end up with 8 watt hours. To put that in perspective, I used 900 kWh last month. Phone charging would account for 0.02% of that. Probably 70% of that was the A/C because..... my girlfriend just moved in. Last year it was 500 kWh. By far the largest difference is more efficient heating/cooling. So if you extend my anecdote across the general population, that means that the higher divorce rate is allowing for less use of heating/cooling in guy's houses. Cause the girls always move back to apartments where economies of scale make it easier. Or maybe HVAC/appliances/TVs are just getting more efficient and people have no space to put a 5th 42" LCD.

Efficiency is only part of the equation (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362346)

demographic changes and societal changes are probably at least as responsible, if not more responsible, for the changes. Due to the "great recession" American kids are finally figuring out what their counterparts in other rich countries(Italy and Japan foremost among them) that living with mom and dad after graduation and even employment isn't as bad as either forking out massive amounts of money in rent to someone else every month or buying a house/apartment that is pretty much guaranteed to be worth less than you paid for it the second you sign the lease.

As such, as more people live in the same household per capita energy consumption tends to fall as there are more "economies of scale" in things like refrigeration and heating/cooling.....

Whether or not this will be a long term trend like it is in Italy and Japan still remains a question and is critical to long term residential energy consumption estimates.

Title is misleading (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362374)

Slashdot's title says the power demand will fall; TFA says the rate of increase will fall, i.e. it'll still go up but more slowly. Please fix.

It could far less for more if they would only try (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362390)

My Georgia electric bill for June to July was 130, for July to August it was 134. I live in an area zoned for tiered rates, meaning as your usage goes up you pay a lot more. All my lights are either CFL (where they aren't easily noticed) or now LED. There are some good deals on packs of three LED bulbs. The only place without either bulb is the master bathroom because we can't find anything acceptable to replace the clear six inch globes. Suggestions are appreciated on that matter. So we simply have half them off unscrewed enough to not light; those above "my" sink. Common electronics in the house include one iMac and a laptop. Throw in a DLP television and a 32 LED in the exercise area and finally a hot water heater. The reason I posted our monthly electric bills, the house is 3900 square feet.

How is it done, well being militant with the heating and AC helps a lot. Since no one is upstairs after 7 the AC goes up to 82+, it is only below 82 from 8PM to 7AM and then its 75 (a slight cave in but hell who cares). The downstairs is 78 during the day mostly because of pets but goes to 82+ at night though it rarely heats up. Ceiling fans grace every room. Laundry and loads of dishes are done as full loads only. Modern dishwashers are more efficient than washing by hand in most cases. Modern washers (both are less than five years old) are the same. Oh, watch the lights. Its not hard to teach turning out the light when your not in the room (though it can lead to some silliness - as in its ONLY YOU in there"). Toss in a light colored shingles and that might help a bit. I would try white as a story mentioned years ago but HOAs are the law in these parts. Outside the only control I have over the elements was planting Chinese Thuja (very fast growing conical pines) to the S/SW to block direct summer sunlight in evening. Even the orientation of the home benefits, most windows are on the North side.

While I doubt every thing we do would work for most, it works for us. Make it a game. That can get everyone on board. That and have something tangible as reward to do with the savings. Like trips, hell even pizza nights paid for being smart work.

flip side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362482)

This will cause utilities everywhere to raise rates so that they can cover fixed costs

Don't Worry (1)

WhoBeDaPlaya (984958) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362520)

The bitcoin miners will single-handedly reverse the trend

Growth falling is not consumption falling (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362544)

>"From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."

That means the rate that GROWTH is increasing will slow down. That does not mean absolute power usage is going down. That won't happen until total growth is NEGATIVE.

I am quite sure many people are misreading this to mean it is a reduction in energy use, which it is not. We are a loooooong way away from that happening. Still, a reduction in growth of energy usage is a good sign.

Re:Growth falling is not consumption falling (2)

cfc-12 (1195347) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362620)

>"From 2000 to 2010, the growth rate slowed to 2 percent. Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit group funded by the utility industry."

That means the rate that GROWTH is increasing will slow down.

No, I'm pretty sure "demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year" means just that. A decline in demand is negative growth in demand (demand meaning the actual amount of power people draw from the system in a given period of time, not the increase in that amount).

Also from TFA:

Over the next decade, experts expect residential power use to fall, reversing an upward trend that has been almost uninterrupted since Thomas Edison invented the modern light bulb.

Surely when an upward trend in residential power use is reversed, it becomes a downward trend, not just a trend going upwards a little more slowly?

Re:Growth falling is not consumption falling (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362862)

Growth has slowed to 2% already, and is expected to hit a negative value such that total demand will decline 0.5% per year.

Not terribly surprising, given many trends... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362562)

The population growth just isn't keeping up with the increases in efficiency that are popping up everywhere.

  • Switching to more efficient lighting, which many are doing, makes a VERY significant impact on energy use.
  • People are more and more using portable phones, tablets, and notebooks as computing devices rather than desktop computers with CRTs.
  • Inefficient tube TVs are being replaced with LCD TVs, and the new ones with LED backlighting are even more efficient.
  • Old appliances are dying off and being replaced with new, far-more-efficient ones.
  • People in sunny regions are installing solar panels and generating their own electricity.

I'd expect this trend to continue if electric cars weren't starting to become viable. Within 5 years or so, we'll probably see this reversing as more and more people are plugging in their vehicles at night.

Re:Not terribly surprising, given many trends... (1)

D. Taylor (53947) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362604)

"Over the next 10 years, demand is expected to decline by about 0.5 percent a year" Seems pretty unequivocal to me. Even if it did say growth was to decline by 0.5 percentage points a year for the next decade, with a starting point of 2% you go negative pretty quick.

Re:Not terribly surprising, given many trends... (1)

D. Taylor (53947) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362612)

Uh, reply is meant for the previous parent.... *sigh*

First accepted submission (0)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362590)

Who cares? Im tired of seeing this appear in articles.

I'm in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362646)

I'm turning off my computer right %!$*%& [NO CARRIER]

defiance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362724)

As an act of defiance, I will put all CFLs in the trash and/or recycling bin.

Story Title Is Wrong (and Stupid) (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362740)

Power Demand From US Homes Expected To Fall For a Decade
We hear all the time that household energy consumption is rising, both in the U.S. and around the world.
[...]
the rate of growth [...] is expected to decline slightly over the next 10 years.

When the rate of growth of a value declines, that value doesn't fall. It continues to rise. When the rate declines slightly, it continues to rise nearly as fast as it did before. It doesn't fall.

How stupid are the people writing these headlines? These are the people giving you news for nerds. Stupid people.

Re:Story Title Is Wrong (and Stupid) (1)

nstlgc (945418) | more than 3 years ago | (#37362912)

I wish I could mod you up.
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