This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

October 15, 2003

EIA Statistics: Newer Homes Tend to Use More Energy

Despite an ever-expanding menu of energy-efficient building technologies, including better methods of sealing out air leaks, improved insulation, high-tech windows, and other advances, DOE statistics show that newer U.S. homes still tend to use more energy than older ones. According to a recent tabulation of residential energy use statistics by DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA), homes built between 1990 and 2001 consume, on average, 92.7 million Btu (British thermal units) of energy per year, which is higher than the average energy use in homes built in the previous three decades. Only homes built before 1960 show a higher average energy use than their 1990s counterparts. Two factors may help explain the trend: first, newer homes tend to be larger than older homes, and second, the owners of the newer homes tend to have higher incomes than owners of older homes, which may lead them to conserve less or to buy more energy-using devices. See the EIA's 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey.

How much energy should we expect a new home to use? How about zero? It may sound far-fetched, but DOE's Zero Energy Homes research initiative is proving it can be done. See the Zero Energy Homes research initiative on the DOE Building Technologies Program Web site.