Residential Energy Efficiency

Homeowner spending on home improvements and maintenance totaled $225 billion in 2011 [1].  However, a very small fraction is being spent on home energy upgrades. This market reflects thousands of lost opportunities every day for energy improvements that can help homeowners save money. A home energy upgrade could save 20% on annual energy costs. For the average homeowner that’s $460 [2].  And if 2% of homeowners completed home energy upgrades we could save enough energy to power every home in Denver and St. Louis [3]. Meeting the demand for electricity by improving the efficiency of our homes instead of from electricity generation would also shift investment from the capital-intensive production and transmission of energy toward more labor intensive industries—construction, manufacturing, retail sales, and services—that create more jobs for every dollar invested [4].

energy efficient home

Key Focus Areas

Efforts across the U.S. to encourage more home energy upgrades are fractured, and the number of homes upgraded is modest relative to the stock of inefficient housing. No single entity or level of government can drive a dramatic increase in the market for home energy upgrades. Accelerating and transforming this market will require the combined efforts of private contractors, lenders and other real estate market actors, utilities, homeowners, and all levels of government. SEE Action supports the home energy upgrade industry by equipping state and local decision makers and their partners with the tools and information they need to ensure the most effective program implementation. SEE Action has identified four key focus areas for residential efficiency:

  • Program design. Improve home energy upgrade program design, implementation, quality assurance standards, and workforce training.
  • Access to capital. Improve financing options for both product and service providers and homeowners.
  • Market valuation. Increase the value and demand for of home energy upgrades through energy performance labeling, disclosures, education, and data collection.
  • Energy efficiency policy support. Increase policy support for state and local home energy upgrade programs, rebates, and tax credits, and expand state clean energy commitments.

Key Initiatives

The Residential Retrofit Working Group is currently working on one key initiative—the Policymakers’ Guide to Home Energy Upgrades. This guide will help state and local policy makers understand home energy upgrade policy options and considerations for their design and implementation, and a framework for measuring progress.

[1] The U.S. Housing Stock: Ready for Renewal, Joint Center For Housing Studies Of Harvard University, page 2, 2013

[2] Assumptions: A 20% savings based on an annual average single-family home energy expenditure of $2,300 (RECS 2009).

[3]  Assumptions: 1,720,000 homes (2% of 86 million non-Weatherization Assistance Program eligible homes) saving 23 MMBTU/year (average estimate Home Performance with Energy Star project savings) or 0.04 Quads of energy each year. Average state energy use per household (from the RECS 2009 state fact sheets) and the number of households within Denver and St. Louis (from Census Data 2008-2012).

[4] Roadmap for the Home Energy Upgrade Market, Residential Retrofit Working Group, page vii, June 2011

Connect with Us about Residential Energy Efficiency

Contact our Experts
  • Steve Dunn, U.S. Department of Energy,
    Residential Retrofit Working Group, Staff Lead
  • Chandler von Schrader, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
    Residential Retrofit Working Group, Staff Lead