Keeping Track: electricity costs

With prices flat, the real shock is that use is down

Reports of pending 40-plus-percent price hikes for residential electricity in California may have many consumers clamoring to switch off extra lights.

But nationally, average electricity costs will hover near their mid-1990s levels, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

A bigger surprise may lie in annual rates of overall household energy consumption. An EIA report shows that figure declined 27 percent between 1978 and 1997, the latest year surveyed. What makes that remarkable: During that same period, notes the report, microwave-oven use leaped from 8 percent to 83 percent of households, and home computers from almost zero to 35 percent.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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