Consumers using less energy for heating and cooling
The results of a survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a division of the Department of Energy, indicates that Americans are using less energy to heat and cool their homes.
New estimates from the most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) show that 48% of energy consumption in American homes during 2009 was used for heating and cooling, down from 58% in 1993. For decades, space heating and air conditioning have accounted for more than half of all U.S. residential energy consumption.
Space heating accounted for 42% of household energy use in 2009, down from 53% in 1993. Stoves, washers/dryers and other appliances, electronics and lighting accounted for 30% of energy use, followed by water heaters at 18%, air conditioning at 6% and refrigerators at 5%.
The lower energy consumption is attributable in part to more efficient heating and cooling equipment, building practices that resulted in better insulation and more efficient windows, and population shifts to areas with warmer climates.
To read the results of the full RECS survey, click here.
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Possible Lowe’s closing has SoCal city buzzing
Months of speculation about a possible Lowe’s closing is causing some fiscal angst among city officials in San Marcos, Calif., according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. First opened in 2004, the home improvement retailer anchors a major shopping center and pays the city $587,000 a year in lease revenues. San Marcos also collects another $82,650 in yearly “off-site maintenance” fees from the North Carolina-based chain.
Lowe’s is listed among the top 25 producers of sales tax revenues for the city, which is located 35 miles northeast of San Diego.
Natalie Turner, a Lowe’s spokeswoman, told the Union Tribune that the company would not comment on speculation. But the current San Marcos mayor, as well as a former city councilman, said they were aware of the rumors and the topic has come under discussion among civic leaders.
“They (city officials) know that there’s going to come a moment when Lowe’s is going to leave,” said Steve Kildoo, who heads the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce. He described the potential store closing as “not one off the better kept secrets” in town.
Sales at the San Marcos store have reportedly lagged from delayed road construction that would have linked Lowe’s to a master planned community of 7.000 people. These homeowners began traveling to retail outlets in coastal towns, establishing shopping patterns that continue to this day, according to the newspaper report.
Several Lowe’s stores have opened in other towns north of San Diego, and a new Lowe’s is under construction in Carlsbad, a wealthy enclave on the northern coast of San Diego County.
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Creeping to a million, starts increase 12.1% in December
The million-starts mark is within sight, as residential construction stands at its highest level since June 2008.
The Commerce Department’s new residential construction report released Thursday morning shows housing starts at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000, up 12.1% from the revised November estimate of 851,000.
It was the best report since June 2008, when starts were at a pace of 1.046 million.
Single-family starts also surged to 616,000, up 8.1% from November’s figure.
Building permits were also up in December. The latest data show permits were at a rate of 903,000, up slightly from November, but up 28.8% from a year ago.
With the December report also comes the construction tally for the full year. An estimated 780,000 housing units were started in 2012. That is 28.1% more than were started in 2011.
Five years of housing starts:
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