Energy consumption leveling off as national utility bills rise

As Americans adopted more energy efficient lifestyles over the past decade, the overall increase of energy consumption that has been the trend for much of the past century has leveled off, according to a study released today from the U.S. Energy Information Association.

From 2005 to 2009 there was little change in energy consumption nationwide, with minor decreases recorded during the last two years of the study.

The report also pointed out that, although overall energy consumption has decreased, Americans spend more money on energy bills than ever before as prices have increased exponentially.

These findings point out a correlation between reduced consumption and times of increased energy costs, as well as an increase in greener efficient construction and remodels of older homes.

Regionally, the report found that average energy consumption varied, depending on the climates of certain states. The Northeast region, for example, had the highest average cost of energy for a household, especially during years with particularly harsh winters.

The study pointed out that 80 percent of homes in the country now have energy-efficient features like multi-pane windows, which can provide greater insulation converage over traditional single-pane designs.

Researchers also noted that air conditioning systems are now standard in homes throughout the country, with an estimated 87 percent of residences having some form of air cooling system, up from 67 percent in 1993. However, advances in energy-efficient design have made new air conditioners significantly more conservative than previous models.

Homeowners who have yet to jump on the low-energy bandwagon and don't know where to begin may benefit from consulting a home inspection contractor who can perform an energy audit to provide options for how to improve their living spaces.