NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program

Meredith Fowlie, Michael Greenstone, Catherine Wolfram

NBER Working Paper No. 21331
Issued in July 2015
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics

Conventional wisdom suggests that energy efficiency (EE) policies are beneficial because they induce investments that pay for themselves and lead to emissions reductions. However, this belief is primarily based on projections from engineering models. This paper reports on the results of an experimental evaluation of the nation’s largest residential EE program conducted on a sample of more than 30,000 households. The findings suggest that the upfront investment costs are about twice the actual energy savings. Further, the model-projected savings are roughly 2.5 times the actual savings. While this might be attributed to the “rebound” effect – when demand for energy end uses increases as a result of greater efficiency – the paper fails to find evidence of significantly higher indoor temperatures at weatherized homes. Even when accounting for the broader societal benefits of energy efficiency investments, the costs still substantially outweigh the benefits; the average rate of return is approximately -9.5% annually.

download in pdf format
   (470 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21331

Published: Meredith Fowlie, Michael Greenstone, Catherine Wolfram; Do Energy Efficiency Investments Deliver? Evidence from the Weatherization Assistance Program, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, , qjy005, https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjy005

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Holland, Mansur, Muller, and Yates w21291 Environmental Benefits from Driving Electric Vehicles?
Fowlie, Reguant, and Ryan w18645 Market-Based Emissions Regulation and Industry Dynamics
Borenstein and Bushnell w21113 The U.S. Electricity Industry After 20 Years of Restructuring
Gillingham, Newell, and Palmer w15031 Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy
Muehlenbachs, Spiller, and Timmins w19796 The Housing Market Impacts of Shale Gas Development
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us