Ten Years of Homes, Only Three Percent of Energy Consumption


Single-family and multifamily homes built in the previous ten years accounted for just 3.2 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S., according to NAHB’s latest analysis of data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

EIA’s last report on ““Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States” (covering data through 2009), shows that, in total (irrespective of when it was built), the residential sector overall accounted for 22 percent of energy consumption in the U.S. This includes “lost” energy that EIA allocates to the sector that ends up using electricity. In the residential sector, EIA’s current estimate is that 2.1 BTUs are lost in generation and transmission for every 1 BTU of electricity actually used in the home.Energy1

If the topic is greenhouse gases, CO2 associated with energy consumption accounts for nearly all greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector. In other sectors, especially manufacturing, appreciable amounts of other greenhouse gases are released—so that, while the residential sector accounts for 22 percent of energy consumption, it accounts for a somewhat lower 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

NAHB’s analysis used data from EIA’s most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (conducted in 2009, but not fully released until 2013), to break down residential energy consumption by structure type and when it was originally built. The result shows that, on a per square foot basis, the newer a single-family detached home is, the less energy it uses.


Newer homes are larger, but over the long run the effects of increased efficiency offset the extra square footage, so that homes built since 1999 tend use the same to slightly less energy than homes built before 1950.

Combined, all single-family and multifamily housing built in the previous ten years (from 2000 through 2009) accounts for 3.2 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S. Again, this 3.2 percent includes all energy lost in production and transmission of electricity.


In the above figure, “other residential” is a combination of older single-family and multifamily structures, as well as manufactured housing. Unlike single-family and multifamily structures built on site, manufactured housing is governed by HUD regulations and not local building codes. Considerably more detail and further analysis is available in the full Special Study, published by NAHB in HousingEconomics.com.

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