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Energy usage: US and India

I found, via comments on this blog,that the average US household uses 10656 kiloWatt-hours (kWh) per year according to the US Dept. of Energy. It appears from that report that this is only the electricity usage, quite a bit of natural gas is also used in most homes. According to the Daily Green, the average house in Nashville, Tennessee uses 15600 kWh every year. This data was from 2006.

After reading this I wondered about the energy usage in India. Since the disparity among Indians in terms of their living standards is so great as to be mind-boggling, the phrase `average household’ does not really have any meaning. A significant fraction of Indian households do not have any electricity, while a great majority gets by with one lamp in the house.

Anyway, I wondered about how much energy my household uses. Given that we would be considered middle-class (or even upper middle class) in this society, that might be a good point of comparison with the standard of living in the US. I looked up my recent electricity bills, and it turns out that we use about 1700 kWh a year on electricity. Since someone is at home all the time, and since we have an inverter to take care of the power cuts, this is on the higher side of usage among people in our income group. This is 1/6th of what the average US household uses in a year, or a ninth of what the average Nashville house uses in a year.

Some uses of energy are not included in this list, such as that of pumping the water into overhead tanks, although I doubt somewhat that homes in Nashville would need to have their own pumps putting water in tanks on the roof. Also not included is the amount of gas (LPG)  we use for cooking, which comes to about 10 cylinders or 142 kgs in a year. Using data from the planning commission, I can calculate that this is equivalent to another 1866 kWh in a year. Even then, the total comes to about 1/5th of what a Nashville house uses in electricity, disregarding any gas burnt for heating.

Why do they need so much energy, I wonder.

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