Super Size Demand

A report released earlier this year by the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows American homes have increased in square footage every decade since the 70s. This larger home size is adding to the growing demand on power grids and energy suppliers.

The EIA reports that homes built since 1990 are on average 27% larger than those built in earlier decades. As square footage rises, so does the demand on cooling and heating, lighting, even the number of appliances increases.

Homes built in the 1970s averaged less than 1,800 square feet. Compare that to the year 2000 where home sizes averaged 2,465 square feet. Not only is the floor space increasing, so is ceiling height, all creating bigger, higher places for energy to be used. In the 70s, only 17% of homes built had ceilings taller than eight feet. Today, that number has increased to 52%.

Here in the Midwest, space heating accounts for half of home energy consumption. The EIA also found that homes on average are larger in areas with the most extreme winter weather, leading to more demand for heating. On the flipside, central air-conditioning has become more popular in the last two decades. Eighty-five percent of homes built since the 90s were built with central air. This has lead to a nearly two-fold increase in electricity use.

The EIA says better insulation and key energy efficiency features have slightly curbed rising consumption in the newest homes on the market.