More on New Consumer Survey on Electric Bills


Friday’s data release from Labor Dept.: average electric bill fell 1.2%.

Today in Fortnightly

As we wrote yesterday, it's like Christmas in April. On Friday, the Labor Department came down the chimney with how much American households spent on pork, postage, pets, personal care products, pensions, and everything else 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. 

Yesterday's column opened some of the presents, on regional differences in electric bills. Now let's open some more presents. 

The average electric bill of the nation's 127.8 million households was $1,467 for the year. That comes to $4.02 per day.

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The last semi-annual numbers, for the year ending December 2014, had the average electric bill at $1,484 for that period. So the average bill has fallen 1.2 percent in the more recent period. 

While the average income before taxes rose 2.7 percent in the more recent period, and average total expenditures on all goods and services rose 2.8 percent. So electricity has become a smaller slice of household budgets.

Lower income households generally pay less than the average for electricity. 

Those making forty to fifty thousand dollars before taxes pay 94.8 percent of the average. Those making thirty to forty thousand pay 94.6 percent. Those making twenty to thirty thousand pay 89.0 percent. 

Those making fifteen to twenty thousand pay 80.2 percent of the average electric bill. Those making ten to fifteen thousand pay 70.6 percent. 

Those making more, fifty to seventy thousand, pay just over the national average, 102.1 percent. This compares with households making over seventy thousand, who pay 122.6 percent of the average.

Renters and those living in central cities pay less for electricity than the national average. 

Renter households pay 72.0 percent of the average. Those living in central cities pay 84.0 percent of the average.

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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

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