Average household electricity use around the world

Average households electricity use

Do you know how much electricity your home uses each year?

If you do this post will let you see how you compare to the rest of the world.

Reducing the carbon footprint from your home’s power use is a theme we will post a lot on in the future.  As a primer for these posts we are going to look at how much electricity households use around the world, and what per person use is in different countries.

Average Household Electricity Use

About 80% of people in the world have access to electricity.  This figure has increased in the last decade, mainly due to increasing urbanization.  But despite the fact that more and more people are getting access to electricity we use very different amounts of it.

Using data from the World Energy Council we can compare how much electricity the average electrified household uses in different countries.

Average Household Electricity UseAcross the countries we chose to compare household electricity use varies enormously.  The average American or Canadian household in 2010 used about twenty times more than the typical Nigerian household, and two to three times more than a typical European home.

In the US typical household power consumption is about 11,700 kWh each year, in France it is 6,400 kWh, in the UK it is 4,600 kWh and in China around 1,300 kWh.  The global average electricity consumption for households with electricity was roughly 3,500 kWh in 2010.

There are numerous things that drive these differences, including wealth, physical house size, appliance standards, electricity prices and access to alternative cooking, heating and cooling fuels.

Perhaps the most surprising thing in this chart is that the global average is as high as 3,500 kWh/year, given that the figures for India and China are so low.  Two things explain this, household size and electrification rates.

In China about 99% of people have electricity and average household size is around 3.  In India these are 66% and 5 respectively  and in Nigeria 50% and 5.  Average household size in most wealthy countries is closer to 2.5 people.  As a result the distribution of electrified households is more skewed towards wealthy countries than population in general.

Home Electricity Use Per Person

By taking residential electricity use and dividing it by population we can look at how much electricity the average person uses at home in each country.  Unlike in our previous graph this chart takes in to account all the people in each country, so for places where electricity access is not universal the figures are lower.

Home Electricity Use Per Person


Although the graphs look very similar there are some striking differences.

Each American uses about 4,500 kWh per year in their home.  This is about six times that of the global average per capita, or more than five times the average for those who have electricity access.

The variation between developed countries is also quite stark.  While the US and Canada are up around 4,500 kWh per person the UK and Germany are below 2,000 kWh.  In Brazil, Mexico and China per person use is just 500 kWh, but growth is very different.  In Brazil residential use per person has been stable over the last 20 years, whereas in Mexico it is up 50% and in China it has increased 600%.

Where is yours like?

Our household electricity use has been 2,000 kWh each of the last few years, which means it is about 700 kWh per person.  We benefit from not using electricity for heating or cooling, although our electric oven is a big source of demand.

That makes us a Brazilian family, but global people ;-)

How do you stack up?


Related post: How do we use electricity?

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  • winstonthecat

    Can’t resist contributing. Very interesting piece. Very informative.

    4 person household in Germany. With a house that functions entirely on electricity. We use an air source heat pump. We also have 3.5KW of solar panels on the roof (not optimally oriented).

    We’ve used 6000 KWh this year. But I guess we used ~1000KWh more than normal due to moving in January, having the doors open for workmen on frequent occasions and a few small teething problems with the heat pumps – both for warm air heating and for the warm water boiler. I’d estimate our normal household electricity consumption (i.e. not for heating) to be around 1500-2000 KWh/a.

    The heated surface area of the house is 185 m2 and includes a couple of rooms in the cellar. We also need to finish off insulating an internal wall in the cellar itself. This may cut use a little further.

    I’d like to see if we can shrink the total to 4500 KWh. But there may be little room to do this, short of either installing a wood burning stove (which never pays itself back, even with heat recovery from the heating system) or installing solar thermal water heating (which again, will never pay itself back). A final option one day, may be installing energy storage for the PV cells. As battery prices fall, this is getting closer to being realistic. You can easily run your

    • Eric Gold

      What fraction of your total household 6k kWh per annum is covered by the PV ?

      ::two thumbs up:: for using bicycles !!
      I’m lazy in the winter, but I make an effort in nice weather to only use a car for my 145 km r/t job commuting.

  • lzskdfh

    USA here. 38 degrees N latitude. 4708 heating degree days per year. 1376 cooling degree days (averages). Total electric use of 12,000 kWh per year with 2200 square foot home. 4 occupants. All electric house and no other fuel. COP 2.5 (heating) air source heat pump from early 2000s. COP for cooling is higher. To sum it up:

    5.45 kWh/sf/yr or 58.64 kWh/sm/yr total household energy use for the Midwest USA.

    If you consider that natural gas heated homes in the UK, Europe Russia, etc. use app. 10K-13K kWh when converting gas energy to electrical equivalent, we “wasteful” Americans actually use less total household energy than most of the developed temperate country households on the list.

    We hope to reduce electric use by 50% in the coming years with a new heat pump (COP for heat of 3.8), solar thermal hot water and radiators, heat pump clothes dryer, more LED lights, and maybe a wood burning insert for non used fireplace.

  • Kim Magnuson

    Wow..100 kwh/mo is exceedingly low. Do you have gas refrigeration, as many refrigerators will eat up 3 kwh per day or near your 100 kwh per month without ever turning on a single light/fan/water pump for well/fan for cooling/or computer/or charge cel phone or tablet/or any appliances that are on standby such as TV when turned off. I laud your ability to get that low Eric. I am nowhere near that, as we use about 450 per month, but we do heat with electricity, as we have solar panels that provide more electricity than we consume. With your usage, you could have a 1kw solar system and be off grid with a battery or two. If you did the work yourself, you could probably do the whole thing for about $1600 or less and then get 30% back from the feds and never see a bill again and your out of pocked expense would be about a thousand dollars..You might even get state rebate.

  • Tough on Stains

    We have snow here 6 months of the year. That also means we only have about 8 hours of daylight in the winter (it doesn’t balance out in the summer by having longer evenings).

    We heat our home with natural gas…but people forget about the power consumption of the fan to distribute the heat throughout the house. (Pro tip: Use gas heat to set a colder ambient temperature in your house, and use electric space heaters only in rooms that are being used when you need to. The heat/cost ratio of using those heaters is far more efficient than just cranking up the gas.)

    All that being said, being in a northern environment with societal expectations (IE: we work regardless if it’s light/cold outside or not), it should be expected the northern countries have greater power consumption to maintain a certain quality of life.

    I should also mention I dislike the idea of analysis by household. It should be based on production and consumption. IE: In Canada our power has to travel further and there is some loss as it travels, so more power needs to be produced to counteract this problem. Other countries might have poor infrastructure, or use poor conductors for their powerlines. They too, may be subject to power loss.

    Lots of variables here…

  • Raj

    South India 1 child 2 adults. 1900 Kwh/Year. Apartment is 500 sq ft. On summers months March to October (its hot most of the time) temperature can range from 28 to 42 (max). Avrage is 36 all in degree Celsius for summer.
    We don’t need heaters as temperature only falls upto 23 (min). We use Air conditioner only for Bed room 2 to 3 hours at night on Summer months followed by a fan. We use fan all day.
    Cooking is by gas stove.
    We use CFL lamps. 1 per room (4 rooms). TV, Washing machine and old model 165 litre fridge. There are new fridges which use a motor fan to remove frost, they consume 1 Kwh per day more. If the power of off, it turns to a heater as there is no ice inside (So we use old model). We get unexplained power cuts for 30 minutes a week.
    I found that replacing AC (which broke down) with 2 fans saved me 50 units/month. Now as part of excersise, stopped using washing machine (which is still in good condition) and hand wash the clothes that cut 20 units/month. Clothes look like they are new!
    So next year I ll be saving 700+ units. If children can be trained to live without Air-conditioners and Washing machines (I never saw them till I got a job at age 24), they will be healthier and pay less for energy throughout their life.
    Here the charges are incremental (first 50 units cost x and the next 50 cost 1.5x …)

    I don’t believe in global warming, If it was true then South India is on the brink of maximum heat, We would have fled to the mountains when the volcano in iceland puked next 100 years of man made green house gasses. We did’nt notice any change, so that proves.
    When developed countries have everything that they need their politicians talk about non existing problems and act as if they are resolving it. ‘Global warming’. It also helps the much needed consumerism which is part of Industrial revolution.

    • zsolmanz

      Hate to break it to you buddy, but that volcano did *not* produce more greenhouse gas than the next 100 years of human civilisation:

      “Iceland’s Eyjafjoell volcano is emitting between 150,000 and 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per day, a figure placing it in the same emissions league as a small-to-medium European economy, experts said on Monday.
      Extrapolated over a year, the emissions would place the volcano 47th to 75th in the world table of emitters on a country-by-country basis, according to a database at the World Resources Institute (WRI), which tracks environment and sustainable development.”


      Plus, the CO2-temperature link has a delay. The planet doesn’t just immediately heat up when CO2 changes, it takes time.

      • Lindsay Wilson

        So true. It also best to think as CO2 as both a forcing and a feedback. At times in the geological record amplified warming inertia created by other forcings

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  • sandy

    Though we Indians are amongst the minimum users of electricity, Government still insists on saving electricity. For a family of 3 in 2 bedroom apartment our consumption is 2000 KWH/Year plus 500 KWH/Yr/Apartment for common building usage. We do not use Airconditioners or heaters as weather is moderate in our region and use natural gas geysers and gas stoves.

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  • me

    hello friends

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  • Gavin Davies

    In the UK we might not use as much electricity as say America, but we do seem to use alot of gas for heating during the winter months. As well the UK is a fairly temperate climit rarely getting above 30C in Summer and rarely below 0C during the day in the winter months.

    If it was alot hotter in summer I bet most Brits would have air con installed and use it. As well if it was colder in winter, there would be extra demand for electric heating as well. As a lot of small flats and shops just have electric, and no gas heating.

    So I don’t think Brits can really pat them self on the back, its just fortunate our climate is more mild.

  • TreadLightly

    I live in a two person household in Rural Victoria, Australia. Annual household Electricity consumption is 2,210 kWh’s per annum. Solar Hot Water System and Wood Heating is part of the energy efficient design of the home. The wood heater dries the clothes in Winter, cooks the meals and provides boiling water for hot drinks. The design of the home means that there is no need for air-conditioning in the Summer.

  • endlessgrowthdoom

    BS for USA info if san diego, ca average is 6000kwh /yr. and thats without much effort to economize.

  • saanichguy

    Ashley: I live in Canada and just want to clarify something. Our national numbers for electricity use are high but some of this results from intentional use of “zero carbon” hydroelectricity for home heating and cooling. For example, the provinces of B.C., Manitoba and Quebec produce predominantly 100% hydro-electricity. These Provincial governments have historically encouraged home heating and cooling with electricity. So, although the number of kWh is high, it may not represent “carbon” which I think you are trying to reduce. That said, many homes and businesses CAN reduce their heating / cooling load.

  • Mean Hon

    Carbon foot print as it pertains to global warming is a tax scam to squeeze every bit of life out of its people. The peoples rights have been taken away. The only way to gain it back is to fight the power! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!