In an interview with the Washington Post last month Energy Secretary Steven Chu was asked how the United States could reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 with existing technology. Chu responded:

It’s not widely believed you can do this in a cost-effective way, and so I think we can develop design tools to help people actually design buildings to do this.

You read stories in Europe where there are in small apartments zero-net energy consumption apartments. There is–you know, body heat keeps a lot of the apartment warm. You can’t do this in a big apartment with a few people.

And its true, on a per unit basis apartment buildings do use energy more efficiently than single-family detached housing. But on a square footage basis, as the Energy Department’s own data shows,  single family homes have the highest energy efficiency rating. Commenting on Secretary’s Chu’s push to move more American families into apartments (all in the name of fighting global warming) Heritage fellow Ron Utt observes:

One option for the reduction in energy use that has come to the attention of the U.S. Department of Energy is to pack more people into smaller apartments–a prospect more akin to living standards in Calcutta. Perhaps this Carteresque austerity trend will encourage the Environmental Protection Agency to declare that if Americans weren’t so fussy about personal hygiene, vast volumes of fresh water could be saved.