Discussion Paper

Putting Information into Action: What Explains Follow-up on Home Energy Audits?

Jul 13, 2015 | Karen L. Palmer, Margaret A. Walls, Lucy O'Keeffe

Summary

A survey of homeowners shows that two sets of factors are important in explaining audit follow-up: factors related to the costs of retrofits and those related to the features and quality of the audits.

Abstract

Consumers often invest in information when faced with choices that have uncertain payoffs. Homeowners considering improvements or retrofits in order to lower their energy bills may decide to have a home energy audit, a professional assessment that identifies where a home is losing energy and recommends improvements that will lower energy use and costs. Follow-up on audit recommendations varies widely across households. We explore the reasons for these differences using data from a multistate survey of over 500 homeowners who have had energy audits. Our findings suggest that two sets of factors are important in explaining audit follow-up: factors related to the costs of retrofits and those related to the features and quality of the audits. Our findings have implications for policies to encourage the use of audits and suggest that the quality of the information and how it is delivered have important consequences for the role of audits in reducing energy consumption.