U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office
Securing America's Future with Energy Efficient Buildings
What We Do
We lead a vast network of research and industry partners to continually develop innovative, cost-effective energy saving solutions—better products, better new homes, better ways to improve older homes, and better buildings in which we work, shop, and lead our everyday lives.
Why It Matters
Energy efficiency is a low cost way to save money, support job growth, reduce pollution, and improve the competitiveness of our businesses. Our homes, offices, schools, hospitals, restaurants, and stores consume a lot of energy—and money. We spend more than $400 billion each year to power our homes and commercial buildings, consuming more than 70% of all electricity used in the United States, about 40% of our nation's total energy bill, and contributing to almost 40% of the nation's carbon dioxide emissions. And much of this energy and money is wasted—20% or more on average. If we cut the energy use of U.S. buildings by 20%, we could save approximately $80 billion annually on energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs.
Saving You Money While Making You More Comfortable
Energy-saving improvements save money. While there may be additional upfront costs to improve an older home or building or build a new home or office to be highly efficient, these costs are recouped through lower energy bills. On average, families spend about $2,000 per year on energy for their homes—each family could save about $400 each year with energy-saving upgrades.
Supporting the U.S. Economy
Many of the nation's more than 116 million homes and almost 80 billion square feet of commercial space were constructed before 1980—prior to the existence of today's efficient products and most equipment standards and building codes. These buildings represent large potential for energy savings, and this means local jobs. And, money saved on energy costs flows to other sectors of the economy, which can lead to the creation of new jobs.
Improving Our Energy Security
Efficient buildings help us do more with less energy. This alleviates pressure on our electric grid, avoids new power plant construction, and extends our energy resources as we diversify to greater use of renewable, sustainable energy supplies. This helps to ensure we have available, reliable energy supplies well into the future.
Protecting the Environment
U.S. buildings account for nearly 40% of the nation's man-made carbon dioxide emissions, 18% of the nitrogen oxide emissions, and 55% of the sulfur dioxide emissions. These emissions—primarily from electricity generation—in turn contribute to smog, acid rain, haze, and global climate change. Improving the efficiency of the nation's buildings can play a significant role in reducing pollution. Building efficiency improvements will also help the nation achieve its goal of reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions 17% by 2020.