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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 ScheduleIrregular

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 UnitHousing 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 2015 RECS drew from a sample of 5,686 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 2015 data generally showed the same patterns as in previous years, with CE estimates consistently higher than those from RECS. The gap between CE and RECS in 2015 was exacerbated by a decrease in reported RECS energy spending of 2 percent between 2009 and 2015. Fuel oil and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) estimates between CE and RECS in 2015 were the closest among the comparable categories, with RECS being 15 percent higher than CE. RECS estimates for natural gas decreased 21 percent in 2015, whereas CE only saw an 8 percent decline, leading CE estimates to be about 35 percent higher than the RECS estimate.

Electricity expenditures in CE have consistently exceeded those from the RECS, and as of 2015, the CE electricity estimate was 20 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.

Analysis 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 2015 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 comparison (XLSX)

Last Modified Date: January 28, 2022