Although many homeowners strive to lead energy efficient lifestyles in an effort to battle climate change, a recent report by City Lab says that, ultimately, Americans aren’t winning the fight.
So why are we doing so poorly, despite our green initiatives and Energy Star appliances? It turns out that all of these efficient new home options, combined with increasing average home sizes, are only making matters worse.
The average American single-family home is almost 60% bigger than the average homes from the early 1970s, and today they’re also full of more energy-sapping technologies.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy determined that new construction methods and technologies have reduced energy use by U.S. homes. They’ve determined that home energy consumption fell about 31%, from just under 150,000 British thermal units (Btu) of energy per square foot in the 1970s to 101,800 Btu by 2012.
But that measurement isn’t the most reliable indicator of energy used. Since the early 1980s, the average expended energy from homes has actually increased from 83 million Btu in 1981 to 188.7 million Btu in 2011.
One of the key factors here is how the average single-family home in America has practically doubled in square footage over the past four decades. By 2014, the Census Bureau reports that the average single-family home reached 2,660 square feet, up from 1,660 square feet in 1973.
This extra space requires substantially more power to moderate the interior temperature.
“Think of someone scarfing down a chili cheeseburger and fries after an hour on the elliptical, and then wondering why he never seems to lose weight,” said Pew Research Center’s Drew DeSilver.
In an attempt to combat the increasing energy consumed by homes, The Telegram reports that even the New Democratic Party (NPD) of Canada is throwing $8 million of funding at the Keep the Heat program meant to upgrade a home’s energy efficiency.
Under this program, homeowners with an annual income below $100,000 will be eligible for a free energy audit and even a rebate of up to $2,500 in order to help pay for upgrades.
To make these upgrades even more available to homeowners, this program will allow people spending between $5,000 to $25,000 to increase their home’s energy efficiency to receive low interest financing on any retrofits.