Americans love big. Big cars, big houses… big is good… until all of a sudden it’s not. A combination of skyrocketing oil and energy prices, along with a downturn in the economy suddenly made the average American consumer think about downsizing everything from cars to homes. And so homes got smaller, about 5% smaller from 2007 to 2010, and less became more.
Until the economy improved. Now big homes are back but with one major difference: they’re more energy efficient than ever before. How can this be, you ask. How can larger homes not be bad for owners’ energy bills, and not be bad for the environment? After all, don’t they need more energy to run? And don’t they generate more greenhouse gases? The short answer is no. Thanks to new energy-saving measures, efficiency gains of more than 70% are now offsetting the rise in energy usage that would normally result from the increasing size of American homes. And, when you take energy intensity (energy used per square foot) into account, the numbers are even more impressive: energy intensity in 2009 was 37% lower than in 1980. That means a significant overall reduction in the use of coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel.
So how is it that newer, bigger houses consume less energy than smaller older ones? It starts with technology – more energy efficient technologies to be specific. This includes ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and electronics, energy efficient lighting and improved energy-saving HVAC systems. Factor into that better insulation, and improved home thermal enclosures and voila! All of a sudden, you’ve got a larger home that’s more energy efficient than a smaller, older dwelling.
The benefits of living in an energy efficient home are manifold. They cost less to run, which means lower utility bills; they are more comfortable to live in and therefore healthier; and energy efficient homes generally command higher resale values.
To learn how energy efficient your home is, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor for an energy audit. Energy audits show you where and how your home is losing energy (and money), and auditors can provide cost-effective solutions to these problems.