The Most Energy-Guzzling Sector in the United States

It's no secret that rising energy costs have caused consumers and businesses to conserve energy more than ever before, but what most don't know is that transportation is not the most energy-guzzling sector in the United States -- buildings are.

Accounting for 40 percent of energy use in the United States, buildings represent a significant potential for reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

"We actually have the technology right now to substantially reduce energy consumption through buildings, all the way down to net-zero-energy," says ASHRAE President Kent Peterson. "It's up to building owners to realize the power to help ensure our nation's energy independence is in their hands."

While most people can't directly impact commercial energy use, many can take steps at home to reduce their energy consumption as the summer months arrive.

  • Dial up. When the home is occupied during the day, set the temperature at 76 degrees or above, and move it a few degrees higher at night while sleeping. Programmable thermostats can do this automatically and easily.
  • Mind the ventilation. Use kitchen, bath and other ventilating fans wisely. In just one hour, these fans can pull out a houseful of cooled air. Install a timer switch instead of a manual switch to limit the time an exhaust fan is on.
  • Cover up. In warmer months, close the drapes or shades on the east, south, and west windows during the day to prevent the sun's energy from heating the room. The shade or drapery material should be reflective on the side facing the window.
  • Duct, duct, loose? Have air ducts checked for leaks and holes. If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, use tape with the Underwriter's Lab logo so it doesn't degrade, crack or lose its bond with age.
  • Get some shade. Shading from overhangs, awnings, exterior shades, shade screens and foliage can reduce heat entering the house, especially on east and west windows. While you're outside, make sure that landscaping isn't too close to the outdoor air-conditioning unit, as it may block airflow that is necessary for efficiency.
  • Clean up. Clean or change furnace filters every one to two months and have the system maintained according to manufacturer's instructions. Dirty filters, coils and fans reduce airflow throughout the system, which decreases performance and can damage your system.
  • Insulate. Adding insulation to your attic is the easiest and least expensive way to increase insulation. Insulation can be blown into wall cavities, especially in older homes. If siding is to be replaced, take the opportunity to add a layer of exterior insulation.
  • Keep your cool. Caulk, install weather stripping or use spray-in foams around windows and doors, on exterior walls, or between cooled and unconditioned spaces such as garages, basements and crawl spaces to keep conditioned air in.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.