Do you need more space for a growing family? One of the tradeoffs to buying a larger home is having to pay more in utility costs for heating, cooling and other appliance use. However, advances in energy efficiency mean that you can offset some of that increased consumption. That means you save money and worry less about your energy use, even if you just bought the mansion you always dreamed of.
Bigger Houses and Bigger Households
We like our homes bigger. The average American home size has grown 20 percent since 1980, and we've been filling those homes with ever more electricity-dependent devices, like televisions, computers and household appliances. Fortunately, over 70 percent of the growth in household and building size has been offset by efficiency improvements, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Total energy use by U.S. households inched up each year between 1980 and 2009, the EIA Residential Energy Consumption Survey reports. That is because of various reasons, including more households, larger households and a trend toward bigger houses. However, consumption per square foot actually dropped by 37 percent during that time period -- and if it hadn't, the total increase would have been considerably higher.
Residential energy accounted for 21 percent of total U.S. consumption in 2012 so the cumulative savings are significant. The numbers are astronomical -- residential usage increased from 9.3 quadrillion BTUs (British thermal units) in 1980 to 10.2 quadrillion by 2012 -- and without additional efficiency measures the total would have increased by another 3.6 quadrillion BTUs.
Multifaceted Efficiency Efforts
There are numerous factors driving the efficiency revolution: Stricter consumer appliance standards, local building codes geared toward efficiency and federal tax credits, in addition to awareness outreach programs and labeling efforts like the federal Energy Star program have all contributed to the reduction in consumption per square foot.
If you want to save the most energy, smaller is always better when it comes to houses. There's less space to heat and less to cool. However, if you need the extra space, take heart knowing that technological and behavioral improvements mean that a large house doesn't gobble up nearly as much energy as you might expect.
For more ideas on how to decrease your consumption, ask a home services expert to evaluate your home. He or she can help you find new ways to save no matter the size of your home.
Call local Mister Sparky® for more energy efficiency tips and advice. We're always here to help!