How do we measure the nation’s energy use?

RECS ESS: Measuring the nation’s energy use


To be able to plan for future energy demand and improve energy efficiency, energy experts need to know a lot about how U.S. residents are using energy now. First conducted in 1978, the Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) Energy Supplier Survey (ESS) collects data from energy suppliers to estimate residents’ energy costs and usage for heating, cooling, appliances, and more.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asked Westat to conduct the 2020 RECS ESS survey of nearly 3,000 energy suppliers, which included collecting 24 months of energy usage and cost data from energy suppliers of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and propane.


Westat was responsible for

  • Using natural language processing (NLP) to develop a supplier matching program to automate comparisons of data from the Household Survey against a reference energy supplier list
  • Developing a website that allowed suppliers to review the data request and submit data
  • Developing a case management system for use at the home office and by the U.S. Energy Information Administration
  • Creating a tailored supplier contact strategy and materials, building on supplier participation in prior ESS rounds
  • Performing post-collection, data editing/cleaning, and file production activities


The RECS ESS is the only survey that provides reliable, accurate, and precise comparisons of trends in energy consumption among households, housing types, and areas of the country.


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