Homeowners Energized About Energy Efficiency

An increasing number of homeowners are remodeling for energy efficiency, according to the 2013 American Housing Survey (AHS), released by the Census in October.

Nearly a quarter (23.49) of all owner-occupied units that made a home improvement within the two years leading up to the survey completed at least one energy-efficiency project—a total of 7,142,000 projects. This represents 9.44 percent of all owner-occupied units in the nation. Of that total, 32,000 were in homes constructed within the last four years.

At the regional level, 2,245,000 homeowners made an energy-efficiency improvement in the South, more than any other region. The survey also found the bulk of energy efficiency projects take place within the metro area, but not the center city. The suburbs make up the bulk of owner-occupied units that made an energy efficiency improvement.

The Survey includes any project the homeowner identifies as having been completed for the purpose of energy efficiency. Jobs could therefore fall anywhere on a wide range of size and cost, from replacing a window to changing the source of electricity.

Nearly 25 percent of owner-occupied units that made energy-efficiency improvements received federal or state tax credits or financial incentives from the utility company for the project. Yet, more than 5 million homeowners completed projects without financial incentive or tax credit, demonstrating utility cost reduction was enough incentive. Here, again, is a breakdown of where homeowners had financial incentives or tax credits. Regionally, incentives are dispersed pretty evenly.

More than 30 million homeowners remodeled within two years of the 2013 AHS had no energy-efficiency component. But the millions of homeowners who did make efficiency part of their home improvements, and the thousands who made such improvements to newer homes, show that homeowners are indeed interested in efficiency, despite the upfront costs.

— Katie Gloede. This article was originally published in BUILDER December 2014.