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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, Public Information Officer, (510) 981-7008

Total residential energy use goes down 10 percent in Berkeley

Berkeley, California (Monday, December 12, 2011) - One might think that the addition of more than a thousand Berkeley households in the last 10 years, plus the proliferation of electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops, would mean higher residential energy use. But despite more households and the proliferation of electronics, total residential energy consumption in Berkeley decreased about 10 percent between 2000 and 2010.

In order to measure and report the status of progress toward Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan goals to the community, the City collects and publishes annual data measuring building energy use*, solid waste diversion, and transportation trends. These metrics enable improved, informed management of local climate action strategies. 

Between 2000 and 2010, residential natural gas consumption went down 11 percent in Berkeley. This is significant because natural gas, which is used primarily for home and water heating, accounts for nearly 80 percent of total residential energy consumption.  Over that same time period, residential electricity consumption decreased 7 percent.

What is driving Berkeley’s reduction in residential electricity and natural gas use? Although the reasons vary by household, the factors include:

  • Energy efficiency saves money. In tough economic times, many residents turn down their thermostats and take steps such as sealing drafts, increasing insulation, and choosing energy-efficient lighting and appliances. 
  • There is increased access to energy-saving programs and services. For example, Energy Upgrade California provides rebates for home energy improvements – up to $6,000 per household is currently available. Berkeley’s Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance also requires certain energy and water-saving improvements when a home is sold or gets a major remodel. 
  • There has been an increase in solar installations in Berkeley. The number of solar photovoltaic installations in Berkeley increased from two in 2000 to more than 790 by the summer 2011.

For more information about the Berkeley community’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions trends as well as other statistics and resources related to recycling, bicycling and walking, urban forestry, and more, visit www.cityofberkeley.info/climateprogress. For ideas on how to get involved in the local climate action effort, visit www.cityofberkeley.info/climate and click on “Take Action on Climate Change.”

* Information about Berkeley’s residential and commercial energy use is provided by PG&E. The number of Berkeley households is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau.


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