Home Gas Use in 2015

Deck: 

Annual gas usage by households has remained in range of 4.3-5.2 quadrillion cubic feet since 1967

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For the first nine months of last year, through September 2015, households used 3.4 quadrillion cubic feet of natural gas.  Usage was down by 2.5% as compared to the same period of the prior year, 2014.  The difference, mainly a weaker January, and March as well.  These months in 2014 were much colder in 2014 than in 2015.  

The all-time record year for residential gas consumption was 1996,  and second place is held by 1972.  Third place is held by 2014, when consumption was only 2.9% short of 1996 and 0.8% of 1972.    

However, the fourth quarter of last year was unseasonably warm in the northeast, where household gas usage is critical to the national numbers.  The mild weather likely kept down demand for gas in the important months of November and December.  December gas consumption can exceed 15% of annual consumption.

Annual gas usage by households has remained within the range of 4.3 to 5.2 quadrillion cubic feet since 1967, for 48 straight years, almost.  There is but one exception, 2012.  

US population has grown.  But there are two offsetting factors holding back growth in gas usage.  First, home gas appliances have become more energy efficient.  Second, population growth in the south and west, where electric heat commands the largest market share, has outpaced that in the northeast and Midwest, where gas heat commands the largest market share.

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For example, in 2013, the latest Census data shows that gas was used to heat 48% of homes in the New York City metro area, versus 9% electric heat and 41% oil heat, and 87% of homes in the Chicago metro area, versus 11% electric heat and 1% oil heat.  In contrast, gas was used to heat 41% of homes in the Houston metro area, versus 57% electric heat and zero oil heat, and 1% of homes in the Miami metro area, versus 99% electric heat and zero oil heat.

Demand for gas was aided by its extremely low price.  Compared with the prior year, the price for gas fell by about 35%.  

Starting with the February issue, Public Utilities Fortnightly will exclusively present such insightful measures of the electric and gas utilities industry, in our new Mega-Metrics centerfold.   

Steve Mitnick, Editor-in-Chief, Public Utilities Fortnightly
E-mail me: mitnick@fortnightly.com