New Insights on Where Your Home’s Energy Use Is Going

Understanding where your home is using the most energy is the best step to get you started on saving it.  Research by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has some surprising new insights for you.

Would you guess that technology improvements have helped us as Americans reduce our energy usage over the past several decades, or actually increase it?   Well, the answer is in fact…both! It depends on the type of home energy usage you look at.  For decades, heating and cooling has made up more than half of the average U.S. home’s energy consumption. But that trend is slowly changing. Based on estimates from the recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECs), 48% of energy consumption in U.S. homes in 2009 went towards heating and cooling, which is down from the 58% it previously consumed in 1993.

Why the decrease in heating and cooling energy consumption?  Because homes are being built or upgraded to withstand weather better (for example, better insulation and ENERGY STAR® certified windows), and heating and cooling systems are more energy-efficient than ever.   Thanks to technology and building efficiencies, temperature is gradually becoming easier to control.

On the flip side, appliances and electronics are actually making up more of a homes’ total usage because we simply own more of these things  – about 20% of a U.S. home’s average usage. Electronics like computers, televisions, DVRs and cable boxes are contributing more and more to consumers’ energy bills.  Plus all your little devices add up, too – according to EIA, nearly a third of all households also had at least four electronic devices, such as cell phones, plugged in and charging at home.

The good news is that Americans’ average energy usage is steadily declining overall.   By taking a few small efficiency measures with your electronics, like plugging everything in to power strips and turning off when not in use, you can be an energy saver.  Don’t worry – we have tools to help you ramp up your energy-saving routine at our newly revamped Energy Saver Center website.  Just select the type of usage you want to conserve, or how much money you want to save, and we’ll give you customized tips to get you started.