Community-wide Energy Use
The charts below show the differences between energy usage among different land use types. Being a primarily residential neighborhood, over half of total electricity is used in the home with the other half dispersed among various industries.
The majority of buildings in Silverton are residential. The chart above shows the drastic differences between the energy use of homes and commercial/industrial spaces. There are over 24 homes to every one business in Silverton, accounting for the disparity in usage. Most homes in the community are single-family, which are more dispersed and use more energy than apartments or condominiums per unit.
Natural gas usage follows the same trend as electric usage. Far more homes use natural gas yet annual costs per unit is much higher for industrial and commercial spaces.
How much energy a community spends on transportation energy is largely dependent on people’s morning routines. Cars remain by far the most popular transit options, particularly in dispersed urban area’s and the suburbs.
The chart above compares Silverton’s preferred transit methods against five peer communities including Deer Park, North College Hill, Wyoming, Fairfax, and Mariemont. Public transit, car travel, and carpooling are on par with regional averages yet people choosing to walk in Silverton exceeds its peer communities.
The age of homes and businesses has a direct impact on overall energy efficiency. Homes built before 1960 were not designed with energy efficiency in mind. It wasn’t until the energy crisis during the 1970’s that homes were built with close attention payed to the cost of electricity and natural gas.
Knowing the general age of homes and businesses is vital to understand and managing energy usage. Structures built before the energy crisis generally lacked energy saving features that we take for granted in modern construction. Below is a chart of the needed improvements to structures built across the decades and the corresponding cost and savings impact.
Select energy efficient installations are more cost effective than others. For example, adequate air sealing didn’t become common place until recently. Cold or hot air penetration is particularly prevalent in homes constructed before 1940, on account of the materials used. Energy efficient sealing can be in these cases with relatively low costs to homeowners.
Another issue with older homes is the lack of insulation throughout. Areas of the home like attics, basements, and even walls weren’t insulated in early 20th century homes. Insulating areas like attics and unfinished spaces can traps heat or cold air, drastically improving the energy efficiency of homes.
The map below shows the average age of homes within Silverton. Closer to the core of Silverton, along Montgomery Road, homes are generally older and more diverse with ages ranging from the late 1800’s to brand new construction. The most common age is between 1940 and 1960.
Urban Heat Island
Impervious surfaces such as roads and buildings have an impact on the average temperature of our cities. Rural areas are far cooler and temperate in the summer months when compared to our cities and this rise in temperature has implications on energy usage. Within communities there are “hot spots,” localized areas of higher surface temperatures, dictated by land use patterns. The hot spots are typically characterized by large areas of unbroken pavement, such as parking lots and commercial buildings.
This pattern is reflected in Silverton. At the intersection between Montgomery and Plainfield Road surface temperatures are much higher than in the surrounding neighborhoods. Heat islands have an impact on homes too, part of the solar radiation absorbed by impervious surfaces during the day releases at night, making the need for air conditioning constant.
Placing vegetation in and around impervious surfaces mitigates the solar energy absorption. Shade tree’s, green roofs, or any form of vegetation absorbs some of the energy, preventing it from being reflected. Urban tree canopies also provide relief in the summer months, preventing solar radiation from reaching the surface.
Energy burden is the percentage of a household’s income that is spent on energy. Energy Burden scores over one indicate the census block experiences greater Energy Burden than the average for the community. In the case of this map, the data is organized by census blocks and represents the combined total of energy cost, electricity and natural gas.
Heat islands, building age, and transportation all have an influence on the degree of energy burden a particular census tract experiences. The weight of a localized energy burden also depends on the income level of the residents. Homes in lower income residential areas tend to be older and less energy efficient, compounding the impact on renters and homeowners.