The sharp rise in energy prices in 2004 put less strain on household finances than might have been expected, according to a recent Freddie Mac analysis.

Freddie Mac reported that American homes built in the last few years are nearly twice as energy efficient as the typical house built in the 1960s.

“Crude oil prices have pulled back from a peak of $55.23 per barrel this past October, but as the nation enters its coldest season, oil prices are still considerably higher than the $30 a barrel of West Texas crude cost a year ago,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “And while we are certainly feeling the increase in oil prices at the gas pump and maybe even in our heating bills, the cost to families would be much greater if not for improvements in home energy efficiency.”

According to data analyzed by Freddie Mac from the American Housing Survey, fuel cost as a part of home value was about 0.8 percent between 2000 and 2003. Before 1960, it was about 1.8 percent and an average 1.3 percent in the oil shock decade of the 1970s.

Freddie Mac estimates that home energy efficiency continued to improve in 2004.

***

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