The Impact of Single Family Homes on the Environment

With an all time high in household energy consumption, we need better solutions to home living.


According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census,  the U.S. reached its highest number of households (125.82 million) in 2016. Since 1970, the total number of U.S. homes has more than doubled as our population has increased by 100 million more people.


More people has equaled to more homes which equates to more energy not only for regular use and operation, but also in construction. Building homes is an enormous energy-consuming activity contributing to about 40% of the nation’s annual energy, which is double the yearly use of U.S. cars on the road!


And though the construction of newer homes have become more energy efficient throughout the decades, the overall population growth combined with increased consumer electronic use, higher demand for cooling systems, and more household appliances have largely offset the energy-efficient reductions of traditional homes.  


To improve the living circumstances of families for a more sustainable environment, net zero homes are a great step toward better living. These homes make as much renewable energy as is consumed, resulting in reduced energy-related costs and pollutant emissions to the land, water and air that contribute to climate change.


Consider this information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on energy use for traditional homes:

An average home produces the same annual consumption of energy as an SUV (which  ranges from 15 to 22 mpg), however, it takes 10 SUVs worth of energy to build a traditional home!


The average size of a new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than those in the early 1970’s at around 2,500 square feet.. This means new homes are occupying land that were once natural habitats, more energy is used to heat and cool homes, and more living space is consuming electronics.


Electricity and natural gas are the most widely used energy sources in American homes. Natural gas is generally used for space heating and electricity is generally used for heating/ cooling and powering electronics, lighting and appliances. Space heating (42%) accounts for the largest share  of national household energy consumption followed by electronics (30%), water heating (18%), air conditioning (6%), and refrigeration (5%). Electricity   


Air conditioning energy consumption has more than doubled in use since 1980 with over 60% of homes now having a central system. Disregarding the more temperate climate regions along the West coast and Pacific Northwest, air conditioners (AC) are now standard equipment in over 87% of U.S. homes.


The rapid growth our population and housing market has experienced in such a short period has insurmountable effects on how we live and operate in today’s world and it’s important to consider the steps we can take to improve how we live.


As a homebuilding agency, BlueZero Homes has a responsibility in providing innovative solutions to its communities that reduce the environmental impact of home energy consumption with high quality, net zero homes optimized for comfortable living.


For information on the benefits of net zero homes, check out our blog “How Net Zero Homes Are Better For You and The Environment”