Electricity use in U.S. falls

NEW YORK (AP) -- American homes are more energy-efficient these days -- and so are the appliances and gadgets inside the homes. And as a result, the average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to levels that were last seen more than a decade ago.

According to the Energy Information Administration, power usage is on track to decline this year for the third year in a row. And there are a couple of reasons for that. For one thing, as energy prices rose in the early 2000s, more states adopted or toughened building codes, making builders seal homes better.

Bigger appliances like refrigerators and air conditions have become more efficient, thanks to federal energy standards that get stricter every year.

According to manufacturers, a typical room air conditioner uses 20 percent less electricity than it did in 2001. Some TVs use 80 percent less power than similar units in the past. And incandescent light bulbs are being replaced with fluorescent bulbs and LEDs that use 70 to 80 percent less power.

And then there's the switch from computers to laptops, tablets and smart phones. The Electric Power Research Institute says it costs more than $28 to power a desktop for a year -- as opposed to $1.36 to power an iPad.


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