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Households Pick Up Energy Costs Saved By Businesses

Since March, business closings across the nation have caused a marked decrease in the amount of energy consumed by commercial accounts. As many people are now working from home, it is often the employees who are picking up the difference in costs. A study by Columbia University, for example, found that New York City apartments are consuming an average of 23% more electricity during regular business hours.

During the Shelter In Place orders, New York City apartments saw their energy consumption increase by an average of 23%.

At 40 extra hours a week, this translates to an additional 160 hours per month of electricity being used for air conditioning, lighting, appliances, etc. However, business hours were not the only time households saw an increase. While total weekday energy consumption rose by 7%, weekend energy usage also increased–by 4%.

Yet, even through the height of the lockdown, there was an overall decrease in electricity consumption. Businesses often use more lighting per square foot; plus they often have to power mechanical rooms and extra machinery such as elevators. Thus, while residential use went up, commercial use went down even more. NYISO has reported a decrease of 6-8% since the lockdown began. The decline in New York City, itself, was almost 15%.

As some areas have begun to open up for business, total energy use has increased slightly, but it is beginning to level off. NYISO projects that they will see a reduction through all of 2021 and into 2022.