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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

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

SUV emissions rose during the pandemic, analysis finds

Data: IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

A remarkable new finding from the International Energy Agency: While energy-related carbon emissions fell steeply last year, emissions from SUVs actually rose slightly (by an estimated 0.5%).

Why it matters: The analysis underscores the rising prominence of SUVs in the global vehicle market. It's a trend that makes cutting emissions from transportation harder because bigger vehicles generally consume more fuel.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
20 hours ago - Economy & Business

New survey shows companies are open to moving to cheaper locales

The Phoenix office tower in Houston, Texas. The Lone Star State was the top stated destination for executives considering moving their operations. Photo: Loren Elliott/Getty Images

A survey of C-suite executives found more than a quarter are considering moving their operations to another state or country.

Why it matters: The forced march to remote work during the pandemic has shaken loose the bonds that tie large businesses to their home territory — and that could be bad news for high-cost cities and states.

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have arrived at the Capitol. Members of congressional leadership and VIPs will soon be introduced. Watch a livestream here.

What's next: Biden and Harris will take their oaths of office. Shortly after, President Biden will deliver his inaugural address. What to expect.

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