Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Green Are We?

Are you kidding? Americans have a long way to go before they show the slightest hint of green. The first results from the federal government's Residential Energy Consumption Survey released a few weeks ago reveal how much energy households use--and waste. The survey, taken every five years, asks households about their heating and cooling practices, electronics ownership, and appliance use. The latest results are from the 2005 survey--admittedly a bit dated, but the U.S. housing stock is so massive that these numbers change slowly. Here is the bad news.

  • Only 16 percent of American households are not air-conditioned. Fifty-nine percent have central air conditioning, and another 26 percent have window or wall units.
  • Sixty-one percent of households with central air-conditioning run the system all summer.
  • Only 48 percent of homes with central air-conditioning have large trees that shade their house.

  • Twenty-four percent of homes have high ceilings, which require more energy to heat.
  • Only 19 percent of all homes use a programmable thermostat to reduce temperature settings at night.
  • Forty percent say their home is drafty in the winter.

  • Fifty-eight percent of households have a dishwasher, 79 percent have a clothes dryer, 83 percent have a clothes washer, and everyone has a refrigerator.
  • Twenty-two percent of homes have two or more refrigerators.

  • Virtually every household (99 percent) has at least one color television set. Seventy-eight percent have at least two sets, and 43 percent have three or more.
  • Half of households have their television turned on most or all of the time.

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