Social & Education Policy


Households and Energy Efficiency: A Consumer Behavior Approach Examining Adoption of Energy Conservation Techniques

High efficiency and sustainable residential energy systems can lower household utility expenses, reduce indoor pollution and increase building envelope safety. In recent years, policies and programs have been instituted to encourage households to adopt high efficiency or renewable energy-based heating and cooling systems. These include low-interest construction loans for upgrades from the US Department of Energy and MidAmerican Energy, and a 30% tax credit for conversion to geothermal and solar contained in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. We plan to conduct several studies that examine the effectiveness of such policies and programs.

  • Analysis of the socioeconomic, demographic, political and institutional factors that correlate with adoption of residential solar, wind and geothermal energy systems by households in response to incentives.
  • Comparative analysis of why some communities adopt community-wide comprehensive energy policies while most don’t.
  • Analysis of the before-after fiscal impact of adopting renewable/efficient energy technologies on households and communities.
  • Analysis of why some banks and financial institutions provide incentives to homeowners for efficient energy technologies while most don’t.
  • Evaluation of the process and success in developing a sustainability community in an urban area of Iowa, including infrastructure, architecture, zoning & land use, energy/environmental impacts, and economic well-being.

These studies will employ both quantitative and qualitative research techniques and use primary and secondary data. The ultimate goal is twofold: (1) help guide the development of a combination of policy instruments, marketing strategies and community action campaigns to increase adoption of higher efficiency and sustainable energy technologies by households in the US, and (2) develop sustainable funding streams and financing mechanisms to increase adoption of new energy technologies in households.