On a Budget but Living Large

By Joan Trombetti

Americans might be on a tighter budget these days, but they are living large when it comes to their homes. A U.S. home is bigger with more bathrooms and bedrooms, according to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annual American Housing Survey.

Large Home

Not only are Americans living large, the survey also revealed they can’t take the heat because central air is pretty much commonplace in homes today compared to 1973 when the survey was first taken. Yet, at the same time, only a third of the more than 130 million residential homes surveyed have carbon monoxide detectors in working order.

Must Haves

Most people are living in homes that have three or more bedrooms and more than half have four bedrooms or more. Today 64% of homes have 6 rooms or more compared to 1973 when only 48% did.

A huge 98% of all homes surveyed have a telephone, porch, deck, patio or balcony, carport or garage. Three out of ten homes have two or more living rooms or recreation rooms, and almost half have separate dining rooms. Homes that are newly constructed are more likely to have all of these amenities.

Where We Live

Most people live close to drug and grocery stores with more than half of homes located close to public transportation. Seventeen percent of all households live near public transportation for commuting purposes or to be close to a school.

Only ten percent reside in secured communities and 91% feel that police protection is adequate. Families with children 14 years of age or younger live within a mile of a school and almost 50% of all households had community amenities available to them. Twenty three percent reported that traffic noise was a problem, and 84% say their neighborhoods are free of vandals, trash, junk or liter.

Equipment and Heating

Some 98% of all homes had a full kitchen with electricity followed by gas as theprimary source of cooking energy. Over half of the homes had a garbage disposal and two-thirds have dishwashers. Eight out of ten homes had a washing machine and clothes dryer, and only three percent a trash compactor. Homes averaged far better in terms of smoke detectors as opposed to carbon monoxide detectors with 93% reporting smoke detectors and 35% having a working carbon monoxide detector.

Gas is the most used home heating fuel at 51% followed by 12% for electric heat pumps and 11% for hot water systems. In general, newer homes tend to use electricity.

Public or private companies generally supply plumbing with 12% of all homes surveyed receiving water from wells, and nine out of ten homes rating their water as safe. The most commonly used fuel for heating water is gas followed by electricity. Twenty percent of the homes surveyed have a septic tank, while eight out of ten are on public sewage disposal systems.

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