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Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Information Gap: Results from a Survey of Home Energy Auditors


  • Palmer, Karen

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Walls, Margaret

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Gordon, Hal
  • Gerarden, Todd

    () (Resources for the Future)


Commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 42 percent of all U.S. energy consumption and 41 percent of U.S. CO2 emissions. Engineering studies identify several investments in new enegy-efficiency equipment or building retrofits that would more than pay for themselves in terms of lower future energy costs, but homeowners and businesses generally do not have good information about how to take advantage of these opportunities. Energy auditors make up a growing industry of professionals who evaluate building energy use and provide this information to building owners. This paper reports the results of a survey of nearly 500 home energy auditors and contractors that Resources for the Future conducted in summer 2011. The survey asked about the characteristics of these businesses and the services they provide, the degree to which homeowners follow up on their recommendations, and the respondents’ opinions on barriers to home energy retrofits and the role for government. Findings from the survey suggest that the audit industry only partially is filling the information gap. Not enough homeowners know about or understand audits, and the follow-through on recommendations once they do have audits is incomplete. But the survey findings suggest that low energy prices and the high cost of retrofits may be more responsible for these outcomes than failures of information.

Suggested Citation

  • Palmer, Karen & Walls, Margaret & Gordon, Hal & Gerarden, Todd, 2011. "Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Information Gap: Results from a Survey of Home Energy Auditors," Discussion Papers dp-11-42, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-11-42

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth Gillingham & Richard G. Newell & Karen Palmer, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 597-620, September.
    2. Piet Eichholtz & Nils Kok & John M. Quigley, 2010. "Doing Well by Doing Good? Green Office Buildings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2492-2509, December.
    3. Tonn, Bruce & Berry, Linda, 1986. "Determinants of participation in home energy audit/loan programs: Discrete choice model results," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 11(8), pages 785-795.
    4. Nevin, Rick & Watson, Gregory, 1998. "Evidence of rational market valuations for home energy efficiency," MPRA Paper 35343, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 1994. "The energy paradox and the diffusion of conservation technology," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 91-122, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ramos, A. & Gago, A. & Labandeira, X. & Linares, P., 2015. "The role of information for energy efficiency in the residential sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(S1), pages 17-29.
    2. Alberto Gago & Michael Hanemann & Xavier Labandeira & Ana Ramos, 2013. "Climate change, buildings and energy prices," Chapters,in: Handbook on Energy and Climate Change, chapter 19, pages 434-452 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    energy efficiency; climate change;

    JEL classification:

    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • L95 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Gas Utilities; Pipelines; Water Utilities
    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General

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