EGU23-8666, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Drivers of Natural Gas Use in United States Buildings

Rohith Teja Mittakola1,4, Philippe Ciais1, Jochen Schubert2, David Makowski3, Chuanlong Zhou1, Hassan Bazzi1,3,4, Taochun Sun5, Zhu Liu5, and Steven Davis6
Rohith Teja Mittakola et al.
  • 1Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, IPSL CEA CNRS UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 2Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA
  • 3UMR MIA 518, AgroParisTech, INRAE, Université Paris-Saclay, Palaiseau, France
  • 4Atos France, Technical Services, 80 Quai Voltaire, 95870 Bezons, France
  • 5Department of Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • 6Department of Earth System Science, University of California Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA

Natural gas is the primary fuel used in U.S. residences, especially during winter, when cold temperatures drive the heating demand. In this study, we use daily county-level gas consumption data to assess the spatial patterns of the relationships and sensitivities of gas consumption by U.S. households considering outdoor temperatures. Linear-plus-plateau functions are found to be the best fit for gas consumption and are applied to derive two key coefficients for each county: the heating temperature threshold (Tcrit) below which residential heating starts and the rate of increase in gas consumption when the outdoor temperature drops by one degree (Slope). We then use interpretable machine learning models to evaluate the key building properties and socioeconomic factors related to the spatial patterns of Tcrit and Slope based on a large database of individual household properties and population census data. We find that building age, employment rates, and household size are the main predictors of Tcrit, whereas the share of gas as a heating fuel and household income are the main predictors of Slope. The latter result suggests inequalities across the U.S. with respect to gas consumption, with wealthy people living in well-insulated houses associated with low Tcrit and Slope values. Finally, we estimate potential reductions in gas use in U.S. residences due to improvements in household insulation or a hypothetical behavioral change toward reduced consumption by adopting a 1°C lower Tcrit than the current value and a reduced slope. These two scenarios would result in 25% lower gas consumption at the national scale, avoiding 1.24 million MtCO2 of emissions per year. Most of these reductions occur in the Midwest and East Coast regions. The results from this study provide new quantitative information for targeting efforts to reduce household gas use and related CO2 emissions in the U.S.

How to cite: Mittakola, R. T., Ciais, P., Schubert, J., Makowski, D., Zhou, C., Bazzi, H., Sun, T., Liu, Z., and Davis, S.: Drivers of Natural Gas Use in United States Buildings, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-8666,, 2023.