In the U.S., we require a tremendous amount of energy to power our modern lifestyle. All told, the average American uses the equivalent of 60 barrels, or 2,400 gallons, of oil per person per year. While we comprise less than 5% of the world's population, this means that we account for about 25% of its energy consumption.

Industry and transportation consume large portions (33% and 27%, respectively) of this. However, what is sometimes forgotten is that our households need a lot of energy. Televisions, stereos, ovens, lights, and computers all require some form of external energy to function. The amount of energy required to run our homes is about 22% of the total.

More than half of this (about 54%) goes toward maintaining the temperature in our homes. Just a half century ago, this figure was much lower, as most homes had only some form of heating. Now, air-conditioning is becoming a universal appliance, especially in hotter regions. About 72% of the homes in the U.S. have some form of electronic air-conditioning, while the figure grows to 92% in the southern U.S.

In this module, we are going to look at factors that affect home heating and air-conditioning. We will be performing a home heating audit, as well as looking at how various building materials affect heat flow.

All figures courtesy of the Department of Energy's EIA website, 2000 data.