Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Residential electricity consumption rose 10% in the second quarter as the pandemic kept many people at home, new research shows.

Why it matters: The new paper from Tufts University economist Steve Cicala is another window onto how COVID-19 is shifting energy use patterns and creating financial hardship.

By the numbers: The average monthly power bill rose by almost $11 per household in April-July.

  • But "one fifth of the population is serviced by a utility whose mean bill has risen by at least $20/month," writes Cicala, who's also affiliated with the University of Chicago's Energy Policy Institute.
  • Overall, this extra energy cost U.S. households almost $6 billion in the April-July stretch.

The big picture: Cicala notes that remote work has benefits including less gasoline use, less time driving and reduced transportation emissions.

  • But looking at that alone misses an "important part of the calculation," he said in a statement alongside the paper, noting the future of remote work is "not as green as one might think."
  • "Just as dense cities are more energy efficient than suburbs, it requires more energy to power many, many homes than to power single office buildings."
  • "The trend toward working from home could increase emissions from the power sector on net."

What's next: Some amount of remote work will outlast COVID-19.

The paper notes that a "mixed work format based on part-time work from home entails higher power demand, as both offices and homes will be simultaneous drawing additional power."

Go deeper

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Sizing up China's 2060 plan

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's vow to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 is starting to produce some helpful analyses of how the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter might actually get there.

Why it matters: The plan seems to be achievable, in theory, but the numbers around the needed expansion of carbon-free power, industrial fuels and vehicles are pretty wild.

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Germany pursues a right to telework

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Germany wants to give people a legal right to work from home.

Why it matters: The proposal is a testament to how far the world has come amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the once-fringe idea of telecommuting finding a place in the law books.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 19, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Renewables gain ground as costs fall

Reproduced from Lazard; Chart: Axios Visuals

The financial advisory firm Lazard is out with its latest analysis of costs for competing energy technologies, and it says a lot about where the U.S. and global power sectors are heading.

Driving the news: The annual analysis shows continued cost declines for wind and solar, albeit not as dramatic anymore, as the chart above shows.

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