Technology Increases Time at Home, Reducing Energy Use

(p. A15) A new study in the journal Joule suggests that the spread of technologies enabling Americans to spend more time working remotely, shopping online — and, yes, watching Netflix and chilling — has a side benefit of reducing energy use, and, by extension, greenhouse gas emissions.
. . .
Researchers found that, on average, Americans spent 7.8 more days at home in 2012, compared to 2003. They calculated that this reduced national energy demand by 1,700 trillion BTUs in 2012, or 1.8 percent of the nation’s total energy use.
. . .
“Energy intensity when you’re traveling is actually 20 times per minute than when spent at home,” said Ashok Sekar, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author on the story.
One of his co-authors, Eric Williams, an associate professor of sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology, made the point a different way. “This is a little tongue in cheek, but you know in ‘The Matrix’ everyone lives in those little pods? For energy, that’s great,” he said, because living in little pods would be pretty efficient. “In the Jetsons, where everyone is running around in their jet cars, that’s terrible for energy.”
. . .
. . . , the study suggests that workers are spending less time at work because faster and better online services make it easier for us to work from home. As a result, we’re spending less time in office buildings, which use more energy than our homes, and employers are consolidating office space.

For the full story, see:
Kendra Pierre-Louis. “Tech Creates Homebodies, And Energy Use Declines.” The New York Times (Tuesday, January 30, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date January 29, 2018, and has the title “Americans Are Staying Home More. That’s Saving Energy.”)

The “in press” version of the article mentioned above, is:
Sekar, Ashok, Eric Williams, and Roger Chen. “Changes in Time Use and Their Effect on Energy Consumption in the United States.” Joule (2018).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.