End-use survey tracks increased AC use, greater natural gas availability

water-heaterAccording to the latest end-use consumer survey compiled by Tri-State — using data collected by 42 of the G&T’s 44 member systems – 37 percent of electric cooperative member-consumers who responded to the questionnaire are retirees, confirming a trend of increasing older population remaining in rural areas served by the association’s member co-ops.

Findings from the Tri-State/Member 2012 Residential End-Use Survey were reported by Brad Nebergall, senior vice president of energy management, to Tri-State’s directors at the monthly board meeting held May 8 in Westminster. The survey is required every five years by borrowers of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, which includes Tri-State and most of its members.

Nebergall explained that in addition to meeting the RUS requirement, the survey serves as a useful tool in planning demand-side management and products and services programs.

In the most recent survey, nearly 36 percent of the respondents rely on natural gas for water heating, compared to 28 percent using electricity and 26 percent utilizing propane to heat their water. Similarly, primary home heating fuel was comprised of 33 percent natural gas, followed by propane at 23 percent and 18 percent of consumers who use electricity to heat their homes.

Based on the last three surveys — conducted in 2001, 2007 and 2012 — electric heat increased slightly from 16 percent to 18 percent, central air conditioning usage surged from 15 percent to 27 percent, electric water heater use declined from 37 percent to 28 percent and natural gas availability moved up from 34 percent to 46 percent.

As previously noted, the primary occupation/income source results showed retirees at 37 percent, followed by professional and white collar consumers, comprising 16 and 14 percent, respectively. Farming and agriculture consumers totaled approximately 7 percent of co-op consumers who responded to the survey.

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