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We use electricity virtually every minute of every day, yet few of us understand the major uses of electricity in our homes.
Before we dive into how electricity is used around the home it is worth putting household electricity use in perspective.
Household electricity use generally makes up about a third of total electricity consumption  in most developed nations. Among the twenty-seven countries that make up the European Union electricity is used primarily by industry (36%), households (31%) and the commercial sector (30%), while transport (3%) is a small share. Although this breakdown varies from country to country the three-way slit between industry, households and the commercial sector is a good rough guide for any developed country. So when we talk about household electricity use, it is worth remembering homes only account for a about a third of total electricity use. The average American home uses two and a half times that of a UK household, more than four times that of an Italian home and over ten times that of an Indian house.
But while there are huge differences in household electricity use around the world we all tend to use electricity for similar kinds of activity. Despite the fact that American households use two and a half times the electricity of UK homes they each use electricity for similar activities, with the notable exception air conditioning.
In the UK the major uses of electricity are entertainment (25%),  heating (19%), lighting (15%), refrigeration (13%), cooking (12%) and washing (12%), which includes clothes drying.
For the US they are entertainment (29%), air conditioning (22%), lighting (15%),  heating (9%), water heating (9%) and refrigeration (13%). Because both of these figures are based on national averages they can be a little deceptive.
The average American home uses 11,700 kWh each year, costing around $1,400 and causing about 7 t CO2e in carbon emissions. Reducing electricity usage is a big opportunity to cut both power bills and carbon emissions. This graph shows how much electricity the average American household used for different tasks in 2010.

By separating electricity use into different end uses we can see where the major demand for electricity is in US homes.
Whether your home uses 2,000 or 10,000 kWh a year there will be simple ways you can save electricity in your home.
The data on the left displays the percentage each energy source contributed to generating electricity in the United States in 2007. Non-renewable energy sources include coal, nuclear, natural gas, and petroleum (crude oil).
The pie chart on the left displays the percentage of electricity that was distributed for use and the percentages lost when electricity was being made and transported across transmission lines. Carbon dioxide makes up almost 99 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, and carbon dioxide emissions from coal combustion account for almost 80 percent of total electricity generation-related emissions. The combustion of natural gas and petroleum account for most of the remaining carbon dioxide emissions (see Figure 3). These plants crush coal into a fine powder and then burn it in a boiler to heat water and produce steam. Natural gas, oil or biomass can be used as a fuel in conjunction with steam turbine technology.
Similarly, in a nuclear reactor, fission is used to heat water, which directly or indirectly produces steam to drive a turbine and generate electricity. In a combustion turbine, compressed air and burning fuel (diesel, natural gas, propane, kerosene, biogas, etc) are ignited in a combustion chamber. The resulting high temperature, high velocity gas flow is directed at turbine blades that spin the turbine and common shaft, which drives the air compressor and the electric power generator. Combustion turbine plants are typically operated to meet peak [2] load demand, as they are able to be switched on relatively quickly. Newer turbines are able to be switched on and off frequently, so they can provide a firm backup to intermittent wind and solar on the power grid if needed. As combustion turbines became more advanced in the 1950s, they began to operate at ever higher temperatures, which created a significant amount of exhaust heat.

In a combined-cycle power plant, this waste heat is captured and used to boil water for a steam turbine generator, thereby creating additional generation capacity.
Historically, they have been used as intermediate [3] power plants, generally supporting higher electricity use during daytime hours.
In the residential sector, space heating, water heating, space cooling and lighting together account for more than half of household electricity use (see Figure 8). Net Electricity Generation by Source (1949-2013)Source: EIA, Total Energy, Electricity Net Generation, 2014.
During this time, the proportion of electricity generation-related greenhouse gas emissions from coal combustion, which peaked in 1996 at around 85 percent, has fallen to 77 percent in 2013. Globally, 5.1 percent of electricity is generated by oil, whereas in the United States oil makes up less than 1 percent. Also, hydropower makes up a larger share of global electricity generation, while the United States gets a greater proportion of its electric power from nuclear. Further mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation will require a comprehensive approach, including lower-, low- and zero-carbon electricity generation technologies, incorporating renewable energy, switching to lower-emitting fuels, coal or gas with carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power, as well as energy efficiency and conservation. Several types of policies can be employed to promote these mitigation techniques, including emissions pricing (e.g.
Our state maps provide information about which states have implemented policies that promote low-carbon electricity technologies and energy efficiency.
We also track and analyze policy at the national level, including what is happening in Congress and the Executive Branch.Research - We produce research, including reports, white papers, and briefs, on climate and clean energy issues.

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