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Consumer Expenditure Surveys

Residential Energy Consumption Survey

The Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) is administered by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The RECS collects data from a nationally representative sample of housing units, including household demographics, energy use patterns, and housing unit characteristics. The RECS is conducted in two phases. The first phase is through a cross-sectional household survey that collects energy-related characteristics and energy usage data. The second phase is through the Energy Supplier Survey (ESS), in which the corresponding energy suppliers for the housing units are surveyed for billing data, which is used by EIA to estimate energy consumption and expenditure.


Release Schedule


Data Source

Data are gathered from a survey given to a housing unit, and a survey given to the corresponding energy supplier for that housing unit.

Data Type

Estimates and Microdata

Collection Unit

Housing unit. The RECS collects demographic and energy usage information from the housing unit, and then gathers additional usage data from the energy suppliers of a given housing unit.

Sample Characteristics

The 2020 RECS drew from a sample of 18,496 households across a set of Primary Sampling Units (PSUs). RECS includes housing units occupied as primary residences in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Notable Sample Exclusions

The RECS excludes vacant, seasonal, vacation homes, and group quarters such as prisons, military barracks, dormitories, and nursing homes


Data Comparison

In the most recent comparison between CE and RECS, the 2020 data showed the same patterns as in previous years, with CE estimates consistently higher than those from RECS. The gap between reported energy expenditure between CE and RECS in 2020 was less than in 2015, due to a decrease in reported RECS energy spending of 2 percent between 2009 and 2015. Natural gas estimates between CE and RECS in 2020 were the closest among the comparable categories, with RECS being 5.8 percent lower than CE. RECS estimates for fuel oil and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) decreased 4.7 percent in 2020, whereas CE saw a 19 percent decline, leading CE estimates to be about 33 percent lower than the RECS estimate.

Electricity expenditures in CE have consistently exceeded those from the RECS, and as of 2020, the CE electricity estimate was 9.4 percent higher than the RECS estimate. The differences in aggregates reported on this page are attributed to coverage, definitional, and measurement differences associated with each product. For more information on these differences, please see Comparing measures of residential energy consumption from two surveys for 2001, 2005, and 2009.

For more information on the estimates highlighted above, please see the RECS tab in CE data comparisons linked below.

Methodology and Concordance

The CE estimates provided in this comparison were developed using the same methods used in estimating average annual figures in the CE tables. For more information on this methodology, see the Tables Getting Started Guide.

The RECS figures were developed using data from the RECS 2020 Microdata. These files contain data for the entire U.S. and are presented at the household-level. Population weights are used to generate population estimates that can be compared with the CE.

Supporting Documentation

  • CE data comparisons (XLSX)

Last Modified Date: November 9, 2023