Long commutes to work sap household energy savings

Suburban families may need to go above-and-beyond when they seek energy-efficient homes to account for the amount of energy they consume each day during their commutes.

Even families that do not embrace the most advanced energy-efficient appliances and products may try to trim their energy bills, through CFL bulbs and other cost-effective measures. But, if the goal of green practices is to cut overall energy use, and not just energy use in the home, these improvements could be all for naught if a family lives outside of a city, according to a new study.

"In terms of climate impact, U.S. suburbanites represent one of the most serious threats to our climate," according to a report by Cities21. "Buying a condo (or renting an apartment) and having a shorter, greener commute are two of the largest individual methods to cut energy consumption."

The report found that an average suburban family uses 240 MBTU annually, with transportation and household energy use nearly equal. Green households located in the suburbs used 164 MBTU worth of energy and displayed a similar split between transportation and daily use in the home. However, an average urban household – which lodged a nearly similar total energy output compared with suburban households – only used 28 MBTU annually during their commutes.

Short of moving to cities, suburb dwellers may need to institute even more savings into their daily activities to make up for the energy they use getting to work each day. While using CFL bulbs and fixing leaky windows is a start, maximum savings are even more likely to be achieved after a homeowner consults with a Pennsylvania home inspection service that can advise meaningful energy enhancements.