News Brief

Home Size, Appliance Glut Cancel Out Efficiency Gains

By Erin Weaver

Homes built since 2000 tend to be larger and contain more appliances than older homes, so despite efficiency gains they consume 2% more energy on average.

Energy Information Administration
As houses are built to more stringent energy codes and appliances increase in efficiency, the average U.S. home might be expected to see reduced energy use. Ever-increasing square footage and the accompanying glut of appliances, electronics, and lighting, however, mean that the average home built in the 2000s actually uses 2% more energy than the average home built prior to 2000.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) continues to release analysis of data from its 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), comparing housing units built between 2000 and 2009—about 14% of U.S. housing stock, from single-family houses to high-rise apartments—to those built in previous decades. The latest results show that homes built in the 2000s use 21% less energy for space heating than older homes; this is due not only to increased thermal efficiency but also to the increased share of construction happening in warmer parts of the country. At the same time, this migration to warmer areas has led to greater energy use for air-conditioning.

Homes built in the 2000s are 30% larger on average than older homes—and 17% larger than those built just a decade earlier—and are more likely to house dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, and multiple televisions, computers, and refrigerators, as well as requiring more lighting for the additional space. The resulting 18% greater energy use for appliances, electronics, and lighting offsets the savings on heating energy, for an overall 2% increase in energy consumption.

Published March 15, 2013

Weaver, E. (2013, March 15). Home Size, Appliance Glut Cancel Out Efficiency Gains. Retrieved from

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