New York City residents are consuming more energy during the day and waking up later, a study shows
CNN  — 

New York City residents are waking up later and using more energy in the daytime since they were ordered to stay at home last month, data from the Earth Institute at Columbia University shows.

“During the weekdays, in the daytime the consumption has really gone up,” Vijay Modi, a professor of mechanical engineering and a faculty member of the institute told CNN.

The data is drawn from a study, launched in 2018 by Columbia University and funded by the Department of Energy, that collects information from about 400 apartments in the city. To ensure accuracy, the particular data used to extrapolate effects of coronavirus accounts for the homes in which the families have not left town, which Modi surmised was well over 300.

The stay-at-home order issued by the governor went into effect March 22. The data compares the week of March 2 through March 8 with March 30 through April 5, according to the Earth Institute’s website.

“It appears as if people are getting up later,” Modi said. “The weekdays are beginning to look more like weekends.”

Modi said investigators were able to deduce from their data that in the weekday morning hours “you don’t see that one distinct peak at 7:30 (a.m.),” that was once there.

The review of data showed that in the weekday window between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. there was a 23% increase in the average energy consumed. But in the morning, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., the consumption seems to have decreased, he said.

Here’s what else the data showed:

  • In the hours between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on any given day, consumption is similar before and after the stay-at-home order, Modi says.
  • There was some more use between 7 p.m. and about 10 p.m. on weekdays but that increase is not as big as the increase during the daytime
  • Weekday electricity use overall in apartments increased by 7% after the stay-at-home order, while weekend use increased by 4%

The study notes the city’s total electricity usage is below normal for the week ending in April 3, citing the NY Independent System Operator.

It’s important to note that these two time period comparisons showed not a lot of air conditioning use, Modi said. He speculates that if stay-at-home or work-from-home edicts continue into the summer months, the increase of residential consumption during the day could be quite high.

“Your utility bill that you pay during the summer might be much higher than what you otherwise paid because on week days in effect you are paying for the day time A/C that otherwise your employer would have paid,” he said.

In a blog post about the study published earlier this month by several of the investigators, including Modi, the investigators write: “A better understanding of how energy usage is shifting between sectors may help prevent disruptions to these systems.

“Such understanding can also highlight how shifts in usage between sectors may further deepen the financial inequities created by the economic crisis that is accompanying this pandemic,” the post says.