Keys to the House: Unlocking Residential Savings With Program Models for Home Energy Upgrades
After more than 40 years of effort, energy efficiency program administrators and associated contractors still find it challenging to penetrate the home retrofit market, especially at levels commensurate with state and federal goals for energy savings and emissions reductions. Residential retrofit programs further have not coalesced around a reliably successful model. They still vary in design, implementation and performance, and they remain among the more difficult and costly options for acquiring savings in the residential sector. If programs are to contribute fully to meeting resource and policy objectives, administrators need to understand what program elements are key to acquiring residential savings as cost effectively as possible. To that end, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored a comprehensive review and analysis of home energy upgrade programs with proven track records, focusing on those with robustly verified savings and constituting good examples for replication. The study team reviewed evaluations for the period 2010 to 2014 for 134 programs that are funded by customers of investor-owned utilities. All are programs that promote multi-measure retrofits or major system upgrades. We paid particular attention to useful design and implementation features, costs, and savings for nearly 30 programs with rigorous evaluations of performance. This meta-analysis describes program models and implementation strategies for (1) direct install retrofits; (2) heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) replacement and early retirement; and (3) comprehensive, whole-home retrofits. We analyze costs and impacts of these program models, in terms of both energy savings and emissions avoided. These program models can be useful guides as states consider expanding their strategies for acquiring energy savings as a resource and for emissions reductions. We also discuss the challenges of using evaluations to create program models that can be confidently applied in multiple jurisdictions.