Urban form and residential electricity consumption: Evidence from Illinois, USA

Bev Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study uses a unique dataset to examine the relationship between residential electricity consumption and subdivision design characteristics, while controlling for a range of important covariates. Households in three Illinois counties completed a mail survey regarding energy consumption and also signed a waiver allowing the local utility to provide their electricity consumption records for the previous 12 month period. Summer, winter, and annual electricity consumption was modeled as a function of climate, demographic, structural, technological, behavioral, and urban form factors using linear regression. Hypothesized interactions between urban form characteristics and climate factors were tested and interpreted graphically. The most consistent predictors of household electricity usage are climate days, household size, number of bedrooms, and heating equipment. The negative relationship observed between net density at the subdivision level and summer electricity usage is consistent with arguments in favor of more compact development patterns and is interpreted in the context of the heat island effect. Edge contrast is also an important factor in understanding winter electricity use with wind shielding as the underlying explanatory mechanism. Homes in subdivisions that are more compact and less peripheral are likely to reap benefits in the form of reduced electricity consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Electricity consumption
  • Residential development
  • Subdivision
  • Urban form

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Urban form and residential electricity consumption: Evidence from Illinois, USA'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this