One flawed assumption regarding this emerging subject of housing and obsolescence is that new construction will save the day, because new homes are more efficient than older ones. The average household energy consumption, however, in new homes is greater than in existing homes. Increasing house size, fewer people per household, and proliferating electric plug loads are neutralizing efficiency gains from better codes, appliance standards, and compact fluorescent lights. (BDEB 2007, NREL 2006, Waide et al 2006).
Residential buildings account for 21% of both U.S. energy use and carbon emissions. Remember there are 124 million households in the U.S. and 13 million households in Canada. This is the reason why the slogan for Janesville Home and Solar is “saving the planet one house at a time.”
Other flawed assumptions include: (1) Believing that the supply and costs of energy and water are predictable; (2) Thinking that climate and weather events are stable; (3) Arguing that our energy use is value neutral and just a “commodity” regardless of ethical and environmental consequences; and (4) Idea that our homes are places of safety and refuge ignoring vulnerability due to income loss, loss of property values, poor indoor air quality, and increased utility costs. (ACI Wiginton & Roberson)
The time has come to rethink and take action about our housing and energy efficiency. New thought and action should include water and even food production.