It's probably no secret that the American home is a bit of a porker. In 2013, the median and average new, single family house was 2,478 and 2,662 square feet respectively--higher than previous, 2007 pre- bubble figures. Compare this to 1950, when the average new home was a mere 983 square feet. And that's not all. Fewer people are living in today's home; average household sizes have shrunk from about 3.37 in 1950 to 2.55 today. And we are all probably familiar with the environmental implications of these bigger, less occupied homes: they require more resources to build and maintain, they lead to sprawl, requiring more resources to get to and from, yada, yada, yada.
But somehow the McMansion pill would be a bit easier to swallow if these big homes were used. If every bedroom was slept in, every dining room dined in, every rumpus room rumped in. Unfortunately, if we are to believe a group of UCLA researchers, such is not the case.
A book released a couple years ago called "Life at Home in the 21st Century" tracked 32 middle class Los Angelino families as they went about their daily affairs, tracking their movements and habits to see how people actually lived nowadays. With one family (#11), the researchers tracked the location of each parent and child on the first floor of the house every 10 minutes over two weekday afternoons and evenings. In other words, primetime for the family's waking hours at home.