Prayas (Energy Group) conducted a survey of 3000 households in semi-urban and rural areas of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to understand their energy end-use patterns. This survey was conducted in February-March 2019. ECHO is a series of blog posts presenting the key findings of the survey. This is the last post in this series, which summarises the findings of the survey.
Sampling plan and household categorization are briefly described here.
The Economic Survey of 2018-19 states that India’s annual per capita energy consumption is 0.6 tonnes of oil equivalent which is about a third of the world average.The Survey further states that the energy consumption needs to increase four times if India has to achieve a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.8, which is considered to be ‘very high’. Increase in incomes, urbanization, and rapid advances in technology are expected to change the household energy consumption levels and patterns substantially. Hence it is crucial to study these emerging patterns which can inform policies aimed at influencing demand as well as planning of resources required to meet the demand. However, there is very little information on how people use energy in their homes in India.
India does not conduct a national level Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) which has helped some other countries capture a cross-section of their households, characteristics of their homes and energy consumption patterns. Data on ownership of different appliances and use of fuels for different end-uses is captured in the census and nationally representative surveys like NSSO’s survey on consumer goods. However, detailed information on efficiency, type, age, and usage of appliances as well as awareness and impact of related government policies/programmes is not gathered. This information is crucial to assess the ownership and usage patterns for different end-uses and also evaluate the effectiveness of government policies/programmes.
The findings from the detailed residential energy consumption survey of 3000 semi-urban and rural households of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra by Prayas (Energy Group) gives some insights that can inform policy decisions. On the whole, the survey findings suggest that the quantum of energy used for basic needs, including lighting, space cooling, refrigeration and cooking varies by income, location and geography of households. It is also observed that energy consumption in households is restricted by reliability in electricity supply, affordability of appliances and accessibility to clean cooking fuels.
Lighting, the most basic use of electricity, presents a more positive story. More than 80% of the lighting stock of the surveyed households in Uttar Pradesh and 60% in Maharashtra are the efficient LED lighting. UJALA played a pivotal role in transforming the lighting market as it increased the awareness about LED bulbs and brought down its market price. As discussed in this blog , majority of households cited quality as a primary reason for buying LED bulbs. Hence the focus now needs to be on ensuring the availability of good quality LED bulbs to sustain the on-going market transformation.
For purposes of space cooling, this blog highlights that ceiling fans remain the most frequently used appliances. However, higher penetration of air coolers and air conditioners is observed in middle and high income households across both Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Assuming that with the increase in warming in climate, the need for space cooling appliances in households would go up, focused efforts would be needed to evaluate and improve the performance of fans and air coolers knowing that a large proportion is currently locally made. Although ownership of refrigerators is high, their use is defined more by cooking patterns and hence the survey findings show that penetration of refrigerators is high but their use is limited.
Energy for cooking remains one of the most important requirements of households and its demand continues to be met using multiple sources of fuels. This blog highlights that more than 90% of the surveyed households in both states have LPG connections. But several households specifically in Uttar Pradesh continue to use solid fuels for all or most of their cooking. About 45% of the surveyed households in Uttar Pradesh and 12% in Maharashtra still use solid fuels for part or all of their cooking. Majority of these households find LPG to be expensive to use for all of their cooking. A sizeable proportion also quote preference for food cooked on chulha as a reason for not shifting to LPG. Interventions, both economic and behavioral, are needed to push for sustained and exclusive use of LPG as well as other clean alternatives to eliminate the use of solid fuels for cooking.
At the sametime, solid fuels are most commonly used by these households for water heating contributing to indoor or local (village level) air pollution. About 37% of the households in Uttar Pradesh and 91% in Maharashtra who use solid fuels for heating water use LPG for most of their cooking. A careful evaluation of alternatives to solid fuels like electricity, LPG, or solar water heaters is needed before designing interventions to push for their adoption.
These insights highlight the value of detailed residential energy consumption surveys. Periodically collecting such information which is representative at both national and sub-national levels is crucial for informing and evaluating policies aimed at managing the rapidly changing household demand for energy in India. The newly formed National Statistical Office (NSO) which includes the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) can periodically conduct this survey similar to its other large scale surveys on household expenditure, housing conditions, health and other aspects at household level.
A first cut energy end use calculation based on this survey shows that about 60% of energy consumption in households can be attributed to cooking, followed by water heating at approximately 16% and space cooling taking up about 9% in both states. A detailed analysis which will provide more information on the energy demand segregated by fuel used, income classification of households and urban vs. rural households will be discussed in another blog.
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