Homes built in the last decade, despite being 30 percent larger than older dwellings, consume only 2 percent more energy on average, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The typical home built after 1999 consumed 21 percent less energy for space heating than older homes, reports EIA’s most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey. Improvements in the efficiency of heating equipment and better-insulated building shells accounted for much of the reduction, says James “Chip” Berry, manager of the residential survey. The numbers affirm a long-term energy efficiency trend documented by the Energy Department. For the first time in decades, less than half of household energy use is now devoted to heating and cooling. “The general trend over time has been that a decreasing share of household energy is used for heating and cooling,” says Berry, whose detailed survey is compiled every four years. Heating and cooling declined as a share of household energy consumption from 58 percent in 1993 to 48 percent in 2009. Energy consumed on appliances, lighting and electronics — all those flat-screen TVs — has increased from 24 percent to 34 percent. Households devote about 18 percent of their energy to water heating. That portion has remained steady in the last 20 years. The shift in how energy is consumed in homes has occurred even as per-household energy consumption has steadily declined. | Read More