A Guideline for Establishing Local Energy-Efficiency Programs in Virginia

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Virginia Tech

From a big picture perspective, investing in energy efficiency in the existing stock of residential buildings in the United States brings unquestioned economic, employment and environmental benefits. The aggregation of energy and dollar savings from millions of small improvements in efficiency adds up to enormous regional and national savings. By employing cost-effective investments in building efficiency, we could reduce the cumulative energy use of America's housing stock by twenty-eight percent, save Americans $41 billion annually, abate 360 megatons of CO-2 (Choi Granade, et.al., 2009), and meet fifty percent or more of the expected electric load growth by 2025 (EPA, 2008). In Virginia alone investing in the efficiency of our existing stock of buildings could save the commonwealth's residents $2.2 billion annually by 2025 (ACEEE, 2008). But from the perspective of the individual property owner the potential benefits of investing in energy efficiency, although just as real, are either less obvious or have impediments to their attainment. Understanding and overcoming these micro-impediments to energy investing is essential to realizing the macro-benefits of energy efficiency. Consequently, any successful local energy program must tailor its efforts to address the barriers to investing in efficiency at the level of the individual consumer.

This thesis, through an analysis of existing and emerging residential energy programs, along with a review of the behavioral and economic literature on the subject, aims to point out the micro-impediments to achieving macro-reductions in energy use. Becoming familiar with these obstructions on the level of the individual consumer is the first necessary step in producing model guidelines for a successful whole house local energy efficiency program. Although the basic tenets of these guidelines could be used as the basis for any locally organized energy program in the U.S., they are specifically tailored in this thesis for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Virginia. State Corporation Commission, rebound effect, energy efficiency, demand-side management, Virginia energy, energy behavior, Virginia efficiency, PACE financing, integrated resource plan