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Low Energy: Estimating Electric Vehicle Electricity Use


  • Fiona Burlig

    (University of Chicago)

  • James B. Bushnell
  • David Rapson

    (University of California, Davis)

  • Catherine D. Wolfram

    (University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER))


We provide the first at-scale estimate of electric vehicle (EV) home charging. Previous estimates are either based on surveys that reach conflicting conclusions, or are extrapolated from a small, unrepresentative sample of households with dedicated EV meters. We combine billions of hourly electricity meter measurements with address-level EV registration records from California households. The average EV increases overall household load by 2.9 kilowatt-hours per day, less than half the amount assumed by state regulators. Our results imply that EVs travel 5,300 miles per year, under half of the US fleet average. This raises questions about transportation electrification for climate policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiona Burlig & James B. Bushnell & David Rapson & Catherine D. Wolfram, 2021. "Low Energy: Estimating Electric Vehicle Electricity Use," Working Papers 2021-17, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfi:wpaper:2021-17

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    Cited by:

    1. Ashley Nunes & Lucas Woodley & Philip Rossetti, 2022. "Re-thinking procurement incentives for electric vehicles to achieve net-zero emissions," Nature Sustainability, Nature, vol. 5(6), pages 527-532, June.
    2. Asad Waqar Malik & Zahid Anwar, 2022. "Do Charging Stations Benefit from Cryptojacking? A Novel Framework for Its Financial Impact Analysis on Electric Vehicles," Energies, MDPI, vol. 15(16), pages 1-15, August.
    3. Ross Mckitrick, 2023. "Economic Implications of a Phased-in EV Mandate in Canada," Working Papers 2301, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.
    4. David S. Rapson & James B. Bushnell, 2022. "The Electric Ceiling: Limits and Costs of Full Electrification," NBER Working Papers 30593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Chakraborty, Debapriya & Hardman, Scott & Tal, Gil, 2021. "Integrating Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs) into Household Fleets - Factors Influencing Miles Traveled by PEV Owners in California," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt2214q937, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    6. Lucas W. Davis, 2023. "The Economic Determinants of Heat Pump Adoption," NBER Chapters, in: Environmental and Energy Policy and the Economy, volume 5, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Muehlegger, Erich & Rapson, David S., 2022. "Subsidizing low- and middle-income adoption of electric vehicles: Quasi-experimental evidence from California," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 216(C).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • R4 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics

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