The Department of Energy announced yesterday a voluntary savings program to build 220,000 energy efficient homes by 2012. These new homes will only use 30% less energy than a typical home. I think this is absurd since that is not a very large reduction. I know that they can do better in terms of decreasing the energy consumption of a single house. Secondly, they should require the U.S. homebuilding industry to make at least double the amount of homes with a much higher efficiency.
One example of such a house is the Passive House which was created in Germany. This house saves up to 90% on energy consumption. "The combined primary energy consumption of living area of a European passive house may not exceed 120 kWh/(m^2a) for heat, hot water, and household activity." Secondly, "For European passive construction, prerequisite to this capability is an annual heating requirement that is less than 15 kWh/(m²a) (4755 Btu/ft²/yr), not to be attained at the cost of an increase in use of energy for other purposes (e.g., electricity)."
According to Austin Energy, people use on average 1,000,000 Btu/day, which is equivalent to approximately 293 kilowatts. This goes to show how much the Passive house would save on energy consumption on a daily basis. It is pretty incredible. If I had the money, I would try to get one of these houses.
The DOE has basically passed something, which will make a very insignificant change to our current energy consumption considering how we are increasing our levels of consumption.