There's no question that homes have gotten larger, and are still getting larger, even in the face of slower sales and tighter mortgage qualifications. But in something of an anomaly, household energy use is decreasing, according to government statistics.
The reason: energy features built into newer homes. New houses are better insulated, so they use less energy to heat and cool. The appliances are more efficient, and people living in even the biggest houses tend to be more aware of the environment and energy waste.
Improvements in the efficiency of the building envelope, space heating, air conditioning, refrigerators and other appliances have all led to decreased consumption per household, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Multi-pane windows, for example, are now the norm. About 8 of every 10 houses built since 1990 have double- or triple-pane energy-efficient windows, the energy organization reports. About 44 million households now have Energy Star refrigerators, and 41 million have Energy Star clothes washers.
In addition, about 40 million households report using caulk or weatherstripping to seal cracks and air leaks, 26 million have added insulation and 68 million have at least some energy-efficient compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode lights.
Even the fact that the typical house contains any number of televisions — more than 50 million homes have three or more — not to mention computers and other electronic devices, hasn't stemmed the decline in energy usage.
Distributed by Universal Uclick for United Feature Syndicate.