U.S. Home Energy Use is Down, but House Size is Up

Nov 12, 2015 4:15 PM ET

U.S. Home Energy Use is Down, but House Size is Up

There’s good news and bad news about energy conservation in American homes. First, the good news. Energy use in the average home in 2012—the most recent year with available data—was down 31 percent from 1970, reports the Pew Research Center. But there’s a problem—that’s the bad news—new houses are much larger. The average home in 2012 was 28 percent bigger than in 1970. And last year’s homes are even larger: the average new single-family house built in 2014 was 57 percent larger than forty years ago. The result? Energy efficiency gains are being offset by larger living spaces that require more heating and lighting, and which have more appliances and electronics that draw energy.

There’s some more good news to offset this offset. While the total number of U.S. housing units rose by 80 percent over the last four decades, they used just 45 percent more energy than in 1970. A Pew survey finds that two-thirds of Americans say people will have to make major changes in the way they live to address climate change. Smaller homes in the future will take a big step toward sustainable energy use.

I’m John Howell for 3BL Media.

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