By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – A new study released Monday found that Americans stayed at home much more in 2012 compared to 2003, resulting in a significant decrease in national energy usage.
The survey found that the boom in home entertainment and online shopping unleashed by the wide adoption of the internet has changed the energy appetite of the United States.
Researchers at the University of Texas studied data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Surveys. Between 2003 and 2012, the scientists found that lifestyle shifts resulted in Americans saving about 1,700 trillion British thermal units (BTUs).
That amounts to roughly 1.8 percent of the national total in 2012. The amount is also roughly equivalent to what the entire state of Kentucky consumed in 2015.
In pouring over the surveys, the researchers discovered that the average American spent eight more days at home in 2012 compared to 2003. Annual days spent traveling were reduced by one and Americans’ time in non-residential buildings, like offices or restaurants, was reduced by one week.
The most significant change over the decade was seen in those aged 18 to 24, who spent 70 percent more time at home by 2012 compared to the general population. Elderly Americans over the age of 65 were the only group to spend less time at home in 2012 than in 2003.
Lead author Ashok Sekar stressed the environmental positives of being a nation of homebodies.
"We did expect to see net energy decrease, but we had no idea of the magnitude," Sekar said in a statement.
"This work raises awareness of the connection between lifestyle and energy. Now that we know people are spending more time at home, more focus could be put on improving residential energy efficiency."
Every year, the government asks some 11,000 people to record their daily time allocation, resulting in the annual release of the American Time Use Surveys.