New Study Questions, ‘Home Efficiency Upgrades’

Home efficiency upgrades don’t equate to much energy savings over the long run?

A University of Chicago study analyzed a random sample of 30,000 low-income Michigan households that were eligible for an Energy Department home weatherization program. The study found that projected energy savings were 2.5 times greater than actual savings, but energy bills didn’t drop enough to pay for the initial cost of the upgrades.

For example, the study found that home owners saw their energy use fall by 10 percent to 20 percent after the upgrades — which could net them $2,400 in energy expenses savings. But that is less than the $5,000 the upgrades cost to install, on average.

The study’s findings could undermine state efficiency programs and call into question long-held understanding of making existing homes energy efficient.

“Paying for the more efficient appliance is still always the best decision, for your pocket book and the environment, regardless of what this study says,” says Noah Horowitz, an efficiency expert and senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Nothing in this study contradicts the well-documented fact that energy efficiency is the cheapest, fastest and cleanest way to reduce climate change emissions.”

Source: “Study Says Many Home Efficiency Upgrades Don’t Pay Off,” The Associated Press (June 24, 2015)