Episode 133: Do homes use more energy today than in the 1980’s?

Stephen Lee, professor in Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture, explains how the energy crisis of 1973 affected energy consumption in the United States.



Learn more

Residential Energy Consumption Survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration

U.S. Energy: Overview and Key Statistics from the Congressional Research Service

Energy Efficiency Trends in Residential and Commercial Buildings from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy


HOST: Do you think that homes use more energy today than in the 1980’s? On this week’s Energy Bite, Stephen Lee, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

LEE: We have 36% more households today than in 1980 (111M vs. 82M), yet the total energy consumed in the residential sector is only 13% greater. In fact, on a per square foot basis, we have reduced energy use by 37%. This is due to more stringent energy codes that result in increased insulation levels, better windows and more efficient appliances.

We have seen an increase in electricity consumption, due to the increased use of air conditioning and a dramatic increase in the number of electronic devices, while natural gas use has remained fairly constant.

HOST: What are the implications for the mix of energy sources we use for home electricity?

LEE: The good news is that when we most need electricity – in the summer for air conditioning – it is also the best time for solar power. Depending on region, there can be four times as much sunlight available to provide electricity in July than in January. This abundance of renewable energy can help utility companies deal with peak demand on the grid.

HOST: What is your home’s energy consumption? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.



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