Energy efficiency programs have the potential to play a major role in slowing the growth of global carbon emissions. Yet, it is becoming increasingly clear among the research community that the predicted savings from these programs do not always bear out in practice, a phenomenon often referred to as the “energy efficiency gap.” As a result, some programs may not be delivering as promised.
EPIC scholars are evaluating the effectiveness of energy efficiency programs in general and the causes of the “gap” in particular. For example, in one study they found that the costs to deploy efficiency upgrades were about double the energy savings. Their research is uncovering opportunities to improve the programs to make such investments generate higher environmental benefits at a lower cost. One study suggests that subsidies for energy efficiency investments should be better targeted towards investments that will deliver the greatest cuts in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, EPIC research explore the effects of peer influence and monetary incentives on household energy consumption and behaviors.
Our U.S. Climate & Energy Roadmap provides recommendations on how to make energy efficiency work in a cost-effective manner. The recommendations suggest that funding should be allocated to the programs that are most cost-effective based on independent and rigorous real-world evaluations.