Let's take a quick tour of how Americans use energy at home. Per capita energy consumption has stayed fairly stable over the past thirty years, but how we use energy has changed.
Insulation improvements and efficiency gains in heating and cooling have made the task of temperature management less energy-intensive. And these improvements have been offset by the proliferation of electronic appliances and gadgets.
Since temperature regulation is very energy-intensive, regional trends explain much of the change in the residential energy picture -- as America's population shifts towards the South and West, heating becomes less important, but cooling more so. The coasts also consume much less energy per capita than inland America.
Heating tends to use more energy than cooling, and in residential heating the energy usually comes from natural gas or electricity. Fuel oil is still used as a heat source in the northeast, but 85 percent of households across America heating systems are either electrical or gas-powered.
This trend may not be the best when it comes to paying bills -- electric heating is hugely energy-intensive, and a study conducted by an Austin-based research group found that it may be cheaper for households to use gas instead of electricity in appliances that consume lots of energy, such as dryers and ovens.