In 2020, 61% of U.S. households used natural gas for at least one energy end use, according to our 2020 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS). Space heating, water heating, and cooking were the most common end uses; more than half of U.S. households used natural gas for space heating, closely followed by water heating.
Although space heating, water heating, and cooking are the most prevalent household uses of natural gas in the United States, it is also used for clothes drying, outdoor grilling, and heating pools and hot tubs.
The share of households using natural gas for any end use in 2020 was highest in the Midwest Census Region and West Census Region, both at an estimated 74%. The Midwest and the West had the highest shares of households using natural gas for space heating (70% and 60%) and water heating (60% and 64%). The highest shares of households using natural gas to cook were the West (50%) and the Northeast (49%). The South had the smallest share of households using any natural gas, at 43%. The South was the lowest end-use region for space heating (35%), water heating (31%), and cooking (25%) in 2020.
Geographic characteristics affected the prevalence of natural gas use across the United States. Areas of the country with cold climates had the greatest shares of households using natural gas. For example, 90% of households in Utah used natural gas, but only 16% of households in Florida and Hawaii used natural gas. In addition, the vast majority (91%) of households using natural gas were located in urban areas.
Although 61% of U.S. households used natural gas in 2020, another 12% of households reported having access to natural gas but not using it for any end use. For households not using natural gas despite its availability, electricity was most often the energy source used for space heating, water heating, and cooking.
We collected the 2020 RECS household energy-use data from 18,496 households, the largest responding sample in the program’s history. For the first time in RECS program history, these data are available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. We recently released revised housing characteristics and square footage tables and will release initial consumption and expenditures tables in March.