Understanding the residential energy consumption patterns in the US
From the visualization above, we see that the Earth’s temperature has
risen by 0.14°F per decade since 1880,
but the rate of warming since 1981 is more than twice that: 0.32°F per decade. 2021 was the
sixth-warmest year on record based on NOAA’s temperature data.
The latest climate data tells us that reducing carbon emissions is not enough. To make the biggest
we must all commit to net-zero emissions by 2030 — a path that requires strong, immediate action.
The built environment contributes to a staggering 40% of these emissions.
Therefore, this project aims to make the audience aware
of where these emissions come from.
The Built Environment
Breakdown of Residential and Commercial Buildings in the
In the US, there are 4.8 million commercial buildings,
there are over 128 million residential buildings.
Residential buildings consume ~15% more energy than the commercial buildings,
as demonstrated below.
(Click on the card below to study the energy consumption of both
residential and commercial buildings)
Residential vs. Commercial
Energy Consumption by Climate Zone
Compare how Energy Consumption differs by Climate
However, the energy consumption for each residence varies a lot based on
the different climate zones across the US.
Therefore, before diving deeper into that, we must understand the climate zones that exist and their
characteristics. Below is a map broken
down by county level, and their corresponding climate type.
More information on these can be found
Region with between 5,400-9,000 heating degree days (65°F basis)
Region that receives less than
20 inches (50 cm) of annual precipitation
Region where the average outdoor temperature
remains >45°F throughout the year
Region that receives >20 inches (50 cm) of annual precipitation
Region that has a coldest month with mean temperature between 27-65°F,
a warmest month with <72°F and min. 4 months with >50°F
Region with both annual precipitation,
and where the average outdoor temperature drops below 45°F during winter
Region with >12,600 heating degree days (65° basis)
Region with between 9,000-12,600 heating degree days (65°F basis)
US Climate Zones 1 - 8 and sub-zones A,B,C
(Hover over a county to see which zone is falls under)
We can even see what climate zone consumes what 'SOURCE'
of energy! What do we mean by that?
This means that the 'TOTAL SITE ENERGY' that your house or residence uses comes from
Natural Gas, Propane, Fuel Oil and finally,
So, we still rely heavily on NON-RENEWABLE
sources for the daily energy usage in our homes.
Energy consumption change throughout different climate zones in a
24-hour time period
(Select the energy source using the buttons below)
Energy by Residential Building Types
Compare how Energy Consumption differs based on the
Climate Zone + Residential Building Type
We now know the different climate zones. But even within each climate
zone, there are different types of residential buildings.
A brief description of all the different types in provided below. Then, we selected three climate zones
that consume a significant amount of energy for residential
buildings: Climate Zones 4, 5 and 6, which can be studied further
based on the energy consumed by residential building type.
A prefabricated structure, also known as a trailer) that can be moved. In
the US, in the 1950s,
these homes began to be marketed primarily as an inexpensive form of housing
Multi Family 2-4
This is a rental apartment building where the entire building
(with 2-4 apartments) is under the same ownership
Multi Family 5+
This is a rental apartment building where the entire building
(with more than 5 apartments) is under the same ownership
An element of the residence's construction (such as a wall, ceiling, or
is shared with another property
A stand-alone residence, excluding manufactured homes, for which the sale
includes the land on which the residence is located
Energy Consumption based on Climate Zone and Residential Building Type
(Click on the circular nodes to study the branches under each Climate
Energy Consumption by Building Attributes
Compare different elements and how they can reduce
consuming different types of energy
We now know the energy consumption by climate and residential
Now, let's dive deeper inside each building and see what appliances consume how much energy,
does this energy come from - is it electricity or fuel? Click on each area in the map below to get a
Still curious? You can study how different types of WINDOW, LIGHTING TYPE AND APPLIANCE
compare across the categories of energy consumption, cost and rated lifetime.
We hope you can use it the next time you think of renovating your own house!
(Click on the card below to study the energy consumption of
both residential and commercial buildings)
Energy Incentives in the US
Compare the number of Incentives and the current
Average Energy Consumption by State
It is also important to understand the incentives that a
homeowner can avail to get aid for renovations. These incentives include
Regulatory Policies and Financial Incentives. You can learn more about this
available policy maps include extensive details on
net metering, solar power policies, renewable standards, and energy efficiency resource
Average Energy Consumed vs the Energy Incentives by State
(Hover over each state)
Master of Science, MS CSE ('22), Harvard School of Engineering and
Wilson, EJ. H. et. al. 2022. End-Use Load Profiles for the U.S. Building Stock:
Methodology and Results of Model Calibration, Validation, and Uncertainty Quantification.
Golden, CO: National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL/TP-5500-80889.
Find Policies & Incentives by State. DSIRE USA.
Building America Best Practices Series, Volume 7.3, Guide to Determining Climate
Regions by County,
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, August 2015.
Kadric´ D. et. al. October 2021. Cost-related analysis of implementing
energy-efficient retrofit measures
in the residential building sector of a middle-income country – A case
study of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Energy & Buildings 257 (2022) 111765.
Latini, A. et. al.2015. IEE/12/758/SI2.644752 D.6.7.
Best practices for improving energy efficiency in Fruit and Vegetable processing plants.
Aksoezen M. et. al. October 2014. Building age as an indicator for energy
consumption. Energy and Buildings 87 (2015) 74–86
Hyedari A. et. al. 2021. Effects of different window configurations on energy
building : Optimization and economic analysis. Journal of Building Engineering 35 (2021) 102099
Residential vs. Commercial Energy Use, Solar Feeds
States Investing the Most in New Housing, Construction Coverage