IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Energy Costs of Energy Savings in Buildings: A Review

Listed author(s):
  • Yvan Dutil


    (Industrial Research Chair in Technologies of Energy and Energy Efficiency, École de Technologie Supérieure, Université du Québec, 1100, Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H3C 1K3, Canada)

  • Daniel Rousse


    (Industrial Research Chair in Technologies of Energy and Energy Efficiency, École de Technologie Supérieure, Université du Québec, 1100, Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montréal, QC H3C 1K3, Canada)

Registered author(s):

    It is often claimed that the cheapest energy is the one you do not need to produce. Nevertheless, this claim could somehow be unsubstantiated. In this article, the authors try to shed some light on this issue by using the concept of energy return on investment ( EROI ) as a yardstick. This choice brings semantic issues because in this paper the EROI is used in a different context than that of energy production. Indeed, while watts and negawatts share the same physical unit, they are not the same object, which brings some ambiguities in the interpretation of EROI . These are cleared by a refined definition of EROI and an adapted nomenclature. This review studies the research in the energy efficiency of building operation, which is one of the most investigated topics in energy efficiency. This study focuses on the impact of insulation and high efficiency windows as means to exemplify the concepts that are introduced. These results were normalized for climate, life time of the building, and construction material. In many cases, energy efficiency measures imply a very high EROI . Nevertheless, in some circumstances, this is not the case and it might be more profitable to produce the required energy than to try to save it.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 8 (August)
    Pages: 1-22

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:8:p:1711-1732:d:19353
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    in new window

    1. Probert, S.D. & Thirst, T.J., 1977. "Thermal insulation provided by triangular sectioned attic spaces," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 41-50, January.
    2. Ardente, Fulvio & Beccali, Marco & Cellura, Maurizio & Mistretta, Marina, 2011. "Energy and environmental benefits in public buildings as a result of retrofit actions," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 460-470, January.
    3. Hasan, Afif, 1999. "Optimizing insulation thickness for buildings using life cycle cost," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 115-124, June.
    4. Brundrett, G.W., 1975. "Some effects of thermal insulation on design," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 7-30, January.
    5. Karlsson, J.F. & Moshfegh, Bahram, 2007. "A comprehensive investigation of a low-energy building in Sweden," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 32(11), pages 1830-1841.
    6. Gagnon, Luc, 2008. "Civilisation and energy payback," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3317-3322, September.
    7. Probert, S. D. & Giani, S., 1976. "Economics of thermal insulation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 189-204, July.
    8. Yu Lay Langston & Craig Ashley Langston, 2008. "Reliability of building embodied energy modelling: an analysis of 30 Melbourne case studies," Construction Management and Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 147-160.
    9. Yohanis, Y.G. & Norton, B., 2002. "Life-cycle operational and embodied energy for a generic single-storey office building in the UK," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 77-92.
    10. DombaycI, Ö. Altan & Gölcü, Mustafa & Pancar, Yasar, 2006. "Optimization of insulation thickness for external walls using different energy-sources," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 83(9), pages 921-928, September.
    11. Daouas, Naouel, 2011. "A study on optimum insulation thickness in walls and energy savings in Tunisian buildings based on analytical calculation of cooling and heating transmission loads," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 156-164, January.
    12. Mahlia, T.M.I. & Iqbal, A., 2010. "Cost benefits analysis and emission reductions of optimum thickness and air gaps for selected insulation materials for building walls in Maldives," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 2242-2250.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:8:p:1711-1732:d:19353. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (XML Conversion Team)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.