• We develop the first comprehensive survey of residential energy consumption in China.
• A typical Chinese household in 2012 consumed 1426 kilograms coal equivalent.
• Space heating accounts for half of energy demand.
• A large rural–urban gap exists in terms of energy sources and end-use activities.
• Results reveal challenges and opportunities for China׳s energy policy.
A comprehensive survey of 1450 households in 26 Chinese provinces was undertaken in 2012 to identify the characteristics and potential driving forces of residential energy consumption in China. The survey covers six areas: household characteristics, dwelling characteristics, kitchen and home appliances, space heating and cooling, residential transportation, and electricity billing, metering, and pricing options. The results show that a typical Chinese household in 2012 consumed 1426 kilograms standard coal equivalent, which is approximately 44 percent of the 2009 level in the United States and 38 percent of the 2008 level in the EU-27. District heating, natural gas, and electricity are three major residential energy sources, while space heating, cooking, and water heating are three major end-use activities. Moreover, the results suggest a large urban–rural gap in terms of energy sources and purpose of usage. Commercial energy is used mainly for space heating in urban areas, while biomass dominates mainly for cooking purpose in rural areas. The survey results can help decision makers and scholars identify energy conservation opportunities, and evaluate the effectiveness of energy policies.
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