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How much does a building contribute to energy consumption? According to the International Energy Agency, 40% of the energy consumed in the world is through buildings, both residential and commercial. On top of that, carbon dioxide emissions from all these buildings contribute 24% of the global whole.
While it is not possible to completely stop all the emissions we produce, we must find ways to reduce them so we can hope to continue to live on this planet. From the energy consumption standpoint, we can certainly cut down and save the planet and some of what's in our pocketbook.
The Way Buildings Once Were
If we look at some of the changes that have occurred over past generations, there may be a clue to the change in building practices. Where we keep our "stuff" may be a place to consider change.
When America was primarily a country of agriculture, people on farms generally had small homes and out buildings they used to house many of their materials and equipment. The home was the area that used most of the energy, and even though many of these houses did not profit from technologies that made them efficient, energy consumption was rather minor.
Change From Small to Big
Although we have many more uses for energy today than people from just a couple of generations ago, the size of the home today is one area that results in a great amount of energy consumption. Most new homes built are roomy and sometimes excessively so. The larger the buildings are, the bigger the carbon footprint.
Often a home is built because a young family is growing or has already done so and they need more baths and bedrooms to accommodate the larger group. This is understandable at that moment, but the time that children spend living at home is rather brief and generally a big house is left which is doing no more than storing stuff and using energy. The energy consumption continues to be almost as high as when the house was full of people.
One way that forward thinking individuals are designing their homes is so that they can effectively close off sections that are not being used and lowering heat and air-conditioning usage. This is often done by separate heating and cooling units and adjustment of thermostats.
Items that drain electricity in the section of the home that is not in use are left unplugged until such time as there is a need for them, such as electric clocks, televisions, component equipment, and anything else that consumes energy anytime when plugged into an outlet.
Homes with more than one water heater can be designed to service sections of the home so one unit can be turned off when not needed, or by having instant hot water systems that use no energy until and only when there is a demand.