Aug 27, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Pew: Americans want bigger houses even if schools, stores are farther away

Chart showing preference for bigger houses
Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans have become more likely to want to live in areas where "houses are larger and farther apart, but schools, stores and restaurants are several miles away," a new Pew Research Center poll finds.

The intrigue: Correlation isn't causation. But the change between 2019 and this year occurred during the COVID pandemic and "the accompanying period of telework, remote schooling and pandemic-related restrictions on indoor dining and other indoor activities," Pew notes.

Why it matters: It's another variable in the still-unfolding ways that the pandemic is affecting energy use.

  • Larger houses require more energy to heat and cool while living further away from offices and services means longer drives.
  • But the rise of telework can also deter some motor fuel consumption. How the pandemic ultimately does — or doesn't — change energy use and corresponding emissions will probably take a long time to fully understand.
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