Monday, May 2, 2011

New information on incentives

The Shelton Group, an associate of the Alliance to Save Energy, recently completed a study on energy efficiency improvements and the effects that incentives have on them.

  • Overall, 84% of homeowners and 73% of renters made at least one low-cost, energy-efficient change to their current home within the past twenty years, such as replacing incandescent light bulbs and installing weather stripping.

  • Of the roughly 830 people who undertook an energy-efficient improvement or purchase, 23% did so with a rebate or financial incentive.

  • Of the 195 people who used incentives for their home retrofits, 41% got utility rebates and 39% got federal tax incentives.

  • Utility bill reductions from energy efficiency improvements did not meet about one-quarter of respondents’ expectations. However, 44% of unsatisfied consumers believe they should make more improvements.

  • About 17% of respondents participated in an energy assessment, and 73% of those who carried out the assessment’s recommendations were satisfied with their resultant lower utility bills.

  • That last bullet point really underscores the importance of a professional assessment in weatherizing a home.

    As the federal government begins to limit spending and tax breaks, it is likely that some of the incentives that have been offered before for energy efficiency will be diminished or go by the wayside.

    This makes it even more important for utility companies to step up to the plate and provide strong incentives for homeowners to reduce their energy footprint, and for home buyers to choose residences that are efficient and perform well.

    However, it may seem counter-intuitive for a utility company to want to encourage customers to use less of their products, especially if the utility is shareholder-owned and not a co-op.

    One possible answer to this is called utility de-coupling, and we'll discuss this in a future blog post.


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