April 23, 2020

Wanna know how life in isolation has changed us? Look at the electricity data

The secrets of everyone’s screwy schedules are revealed in the fluctuations of the power grid.

If quarantine life has your schedule so mixed up that every day feels like Thursturday and the month of Maypril never ends, you probably aren’t the only one. 

In fact, the secrets of everyone’s screwy schedules are revealed in the fluctuations of the power grid.

We’re waking up at the crack of noon

OK, maybe we’re not rolling out of bed quite THAT late. But Bloomberg looked at electricity data across the world and found a few patterns:

  • We’re definitely not using as much electricity in the mornings. In New York, electricity use has fallen by as much as 18% at 8am.
  • The grid knows when you’re taking that afternoon stroll. Power use in the 2pm-5pm range is down even more sharply than it usually is.
  • Evenings are an electricity hog. Ah, 6pm, the traditional hour when we change out of our Zoom sweatpants and into our Houseparty PJ’s.
  • The doomscrolling goes all night long, baby. Demand finally drops off about an hour later than usual — between 10pm and midnight.

Our changing habits mean clearer skies

In India, lockdown has brought residents of New Delhi the longest stretch of clean air on record. Eleven of 12 coal-fired power plants within a 185-mile radius of the capital city have gone dark, and car and construction pollution are way down, too.

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