Profile America: Shedding Light

Friday, October 21 — An invention was demonstrated on this date in 1879 that lit the way for a dramatic change in the rhythm of Americans’ daily lives. At his Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory, Thomas Edison set up the first incandescent light bulb, which burned for almost 14 hours. Within a few years, some cities had installed electric streetlights. The number of homes across the U.S. with electricity grew steadily, but even in 1940, more than one-in-five houses was without power. Today, 100 percent of the U.S. has access to electricity.  American homes on average consume nearly 11,000-kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The national average bill for this power is $114 per month, but over $187 in Hawaii.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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