What is it about?

Using data on ~93 million houses and apartments, we estimated the energy needed to heat, cool, and power homes in the United States, and the greenhouse gases emitted to supply this energy. We found that emissions are 25% higher per person in wealthy neighborhoods than in low-income neighborhoods, and that high-emissions neighborhoods are generally suburban. We projected emissions to 2050 to identify what actions are needed to get this sector to the meet the 2050 Paris goal of 80% reductions in US emissions.

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Why is it important?

This study provides the most comprehensive examination of home energy use and related greenhouse gases from US households to date. These emissions are equivalent to all of Brazil's or Germany's, and will need to be addressed in order to mitigate climate change. We show that decarbonizing the electrical grid is not enough, and the deeper changes to individual US homes and housing preferences are needed to meaningfully reduce emissions from this sector.


I hope that this article underscores the need for coordinated action across scales and sectors to see the 2050 Paris goals. I hope readers will appreciate that it is possible for this sector to meet this ambitious goal, but it will require both technological and behavioural change.

Benjamin Goldstein
University of Michigan

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The carbon footprint of household energy use in the United States, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, July 2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1922205117.
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