A recent Associated Press article noted that the average residential power usage for 2013 is turning out somewhere around 10,800 kWh. The article chalks up the decrease (for the third year running) to a combination of more efficient "gadgets" and also more energy-efficient structures.
Normally we don't deal in residential news, but this seemed noteworthy from a perspective of general building trends. I'd wonder if perhaps commercial gains might be even greater, proportionally, since a real retrofit is much more common in a commercial building than in a home.
Of course, just as the AP's Jonathan Fahey points out that newer tech is also running more often in residences, the nonresidential data center and facility electronics loads are surely taking a bite out of any commercial efficiency savings, too.
The trend reminded me of two thoughts seen in past issues of ES. One, the fairly straightforward idea that buildings can cut consumption just by putting the actual usage data out where occupants can, you know, SEE it themselves. And more counterintuitively, a feature article discussing why improved efficiency doesn't necessarily wind up meaning you're using less energy.