Lifestyle has more to do with energy consumption than size of home. Let’s look at a scenario where we have 3 identical homes built at the very same time, by the very same builder on the same street. Each home is 2,200 sq. ft. and each home has the same level of insulation in the walls and ceiling.
Each of these 3 homes have a 2 adults and 2 teenagers, 1 girl and 1 boy. Just for the sake of fun lets say they also have 2 cats and a dog. The cats and dog usually have nothing to do with energy consumption typically but I like pets so will put them in our scenario.
Let’s call family A the Sinclairs.
Let’s call family B the Russos.
Let’s call family C the Porters.
The Sinclairs are very conscious of their energy consumption. They have all the typical amenities other families have, they just happen to manage their energy well. They have replaced all their light bulbs with CFLs and have installed several motion sensor light switches that turn off when no one is in the room. The Sinclairs also use power strips on all their electronic devices because they understand about phantom loads (more on phantom loads in future blogs). Mr. Sinclair does the laundry in this household and enjoys drying clothes on the clothes line instead of in the dryer when feasible. Although the children complain sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair don’t like air conditioning and prefer a fresh breeze from open windows.
The Russos also have all the typical appliances in the home. They aren’t as conscious about turning lights off but do have a few items on power strips. About half their light bulbs are traditional incandescents and half CFLs. They do not line dry any articles of clothing. The 2 teenagers each have TVs and gaming consoles in their rooms. The Sinclairs only have them in the family room. The A/C is used often in the house but it is occasionally turned off when the days and nights are enjoyable. Unlike the Sinclairs, the Russos have an above ground pool.
The Porters are electronic gizmo enthusiasts. Each person in the home has every conceivable electronic device. The have a huge media room in the house that is on from the moment the house gets up till the last person goes to bed. They have not gotten around to changing any light bulbs out to CFLs. The Porters also love A/C. Except for maybe April and Sept., the air is on. They also have a hot tub set at 85 degrees that is also on 24/7/365. The Porters have a large in-ground pool and they don’t have the pool filter on a timer.
When driving by these 3 homes at night it looks like only 1 or 2 people are home at the Sinclairs and the whole family is home at the Russos. If you drive by the Porters it looks like their is a party going on all night, every night with all the lights on inside and out.
Same 3 houses but the Sinclairs use $850 per year in electricity. The Russos use $1,550 per year and the Porters use $3,900 per year in electricity.
So as you can see, it is how we live more than the size of our homes or families that determines energy usage.