Even More on New Consumer Survey on Electric Bills

Deck: 

Friday’s data release from Labor Dept.: what are similar expenses to electric bills for the average household?

Today in Fortnightly

This week's columns have analyzed the brand new Labor Department data on how much American households spent on everything during the year ending June 2015, including electricity.

The semi-annual Consumer Expenditure Survey is the source for understanding Americans' electric bills by region, income, age, urban/rural, etc. The government actually asks many thousands of households each quarter to track every single purchase. The credibility and detail, especially through mining the micro-data, is unequalled. 

Today, we ask, what are similar expenses to electric bills for the average household?

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Electricity costs the average US household $1,467 per year. As we showed on Monday, this varies a lot by region. Westerners spend as little as $1,195 per year, just $3.27 per day. Southerners, with their greater use of air-conditioning and electric heat, and with generally newer larger houses, spend $1,803 per year.

Nationally, households tend to spend a little less on telephones and car insurance than they do on electricity. And they tend to spend a little more on gasoline, property taxes and clothing than they do on electricity.

Telephones cost the average US household $1,326 per year, and car insurance costs $1,041. Both are a little less than the $1,467 on electricity, but not that much less.

Gasoline costs $2,275 per year, property taxes cost $1,937, and clothing costs $1,885. All three categories of expenditures are a little more than the $1,467 on electricity, but not that much more.

As with electricity, there are real variations regionally. For instance, Westerners spend more on telephones than on electricity and about twice as much on gasoline and on clothing as on electricity. 

Easterners also spend more on telephones as on electricity. Midwesterners spend about the same on both. 

Easterners spend more than two and a half times as much on property taxes as on electricity. Westerners spend about fifty percent more on property taxes as on electricity.

In general, in Americans' household budgets, electricity is someone in the middle with gasoline, property taxes, clothing, telephones and car insurance. Each of the six categories of expenditures tends to take up around two percent of a household's income and around two percent of a household's expenditures.

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Public Utilities Fortnightly dives below the surface of the data from multiple sources to show how Americans really use electric and natural gas utility service, and how much they really pay and value it.

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly

E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com