U.S. households are increasingly switching to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs; 47% report using LEDs for most or all of their indoor lighting in 2020, according to the most recent results from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). In the previous RECS, conducted in 2015, only 4% of households used LEDs for most or all of their indoor lighting.
The share of U.S. homes using mostly compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs for their indoor lighting fell from 32% in 2015 to 12% in 2020. Households using incandescent or halogen bulbs for most of their indoor lighting fell from 31% of the total in 2015 to 15% in 2020.
Use of LED bulbs in homes varies across key household characteristics, such as household income and ownership status. Among households earning less than $20,000 a year, 39% reported that LED bulbs were their main indoor lighting choice, while 54% of households earning $100,000 or more per year used mostly LED bulbs in 2020.
Owner-occupied housing units were also more likely to use LED bulbs than renter-occupied households. Homes without children were more likely to use LED bulbs for all or most of their indoor lighting (52%) than homes with at least one child (45%).
The 2020 RECS questionnaire also asked about lighting behavior, such as how many bulbs were left on for four or more hours per day. More owner-occupied households reported leaving three or more bulbs on for four or more hours a day (65%) than their renter-occupied counterparts (54%).
Among homes with at least one child, 68% reported leaving three or more bulbs on for four or more hours per day compared with 59% of homes without children. Households earning less than $20,000 per year were also less likely to leave lights on for longer periods of time than households that earn $100,000 or more.
Home automation technology also affects home lighting behavior. An estimated 39 million U.S. households (32%) had at least one smart speaker, and nearly 10 million of those households reported using these devices to control lighting.
The 2020 RECS collected data on household energy use from 18,496 households, the largest responding sample in the program’s history. Respondents completed the survey using self-administered web or mail questionnaires during late 2020 and early 2021. In addition to data on lighting, the initial 2020 RECS results include estimates on structural and geographic characteristics, electronics, appliances, demographic characteristics, and household energy insecurity. In the coming months, we will release estimates on additional topics and results detailing information for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
First published on “Today In Energy.” Principal contributors: Kaili Diamond, Francisco Cifuentes, Carolyn Hronis
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