Most apartments are essentially semi-permanent hotels and would consume a lot of electricity with so many people living in them, right? Compared to a single-family home, they probably eat a lot of power each day. However, that is not actually the case. Electricity usage in apartments has actually dropped almost 40% in recent times. In fact, those living in an apartment complex with at least five units are likely using less energy than someone living in a single-family home.
This comes from the fact that apartments that are one of 5 or more units are generally small and require little electricity for lighting, heating, and cooling. Part of this comes from apartment complexes having few windows and exterior walls per unit. This cuts back on heating/cooling loss. A lot of these units consist of about 3 rooms, a common area for lounging, cooking, and dining, a bedroom, and a restroom. It doesnâ€™t take much in the way of lighting to brighten up that space.
In 1980, 5+ unit apartments made up 13% of the total households in America, and in 2009, they accounted for 17% of total households. According to this graph by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), in that same time frame, despite increasing their coverage by 4%, 5+ unit apartment complexes still only account for 9% of site energy consumption for all households. This means that while their numbers have grown, their energy consumption has dropped.
There are some companies that focus solely on the energy needs of multi-family housing and have devised ways that could potentially save $3.4 billion nationwide each year. Some of these possible solutions include equipping window and wall mounted air conditioners with a modlet that allows control of the device over the internet or from a smart phone. Another solution is to modify steam-based heaters so they are more efficient and easier to control. As it stands, some steam radiators output so much heat, that residents have to open windows in the winter.
The EIA and many companies are looking for ways to make homes more energy efficient, but as it stands, apartment complexes have the upper hand when it comes to overall efficiency for families.
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