In 2019, it’s not so unusual to have days where you only have to leave the sofa for pee breaks because entertainment, food, and social interaction all come to us via the internet. There are downsides to the new normal for many, but there’s also one big upside: it’s reducing our energy usage.
A new study by University of Texas researchers and published in Joule examined Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data and found that, between 2003 and 2012, people started to spend more time at home than time traveling to and from stores, restaurants, and work.
That means people weren’t burning fossil fuels tootling around town. And if they were working from home, office buildings were using less energy several days a year, too – in total, around 1.8% less energy in 2012 than in 2003 due to Americans embracing a more home-centric lifestyle.
Considering they used data from 2012, and all of the companies that have jumped on board for home delivery since then, those numbers have likely increased even more.
Only time will tell whether the gas required to deliver all of the essentials (and no-so-essential) goodies to your door causes fewer carbon emissions than everyone driving around getting goods themselves. Right now there isn’t enough data to say, though one study suggested whether you live in an urban or rural environment definitely plays a role.
We do know, though, that delivery trucks and ride-sharing apps are taking a toll on infrastructure, as they have added so many vehicles onto the road that cities are scrambling to keep pace. Drone delivery still presents an interesting alternative to using traditional fuels and existing roads, so perhaps if that idea comes to fruition, the scales will tip fully toward living the life of the hermit.
For now, maybe a good balance is the answer. After all, you still need sunlight and exercise, so you’ll have to go out occasionally.