The impact of energy efficiency program information and incentives

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Residential retrofits are widely viewed as a key resource to improve the national economy and strengthen the nation’s energy future by saving homeowners money, creating local jobs, and reducing building energy consumption. However, there has been only limited success in engaging large numbers of homeowners to pursue comprehensive home energy improvements. To increase the market penetration of home retrofits, national programs like the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score (HEScore), and local programs like the Kentucky Home Partnership (KHP), have recently been developed. When successfully deployed with existing energy efficiency programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) In-Home Energy Evaluation (IHEE), national energy efficiency goals that once seemed unattainable may now be within reach.

While national, regional, and local efforts to increase the market adoption of home energy retrofits have expanded, the impact of these programs is not clear. To explore the effectiveness of these types of programs, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) partnered with TVA and KHP to conduct a survey of homeowners that participated in the KHP program. A primary component of this survey was to also pilot the HEScore. In this pilot, a subgroup of homeowners that participated in the KHP program were also given an initial HEScore with a incentive tied to the increase in their HEScore after the retrofit was complete. The TVA IHEE program provided an infrastructure for the delivery of both programs and was available to all groups of homeowners to utilize in addition to the KHP and/or HEScore incentives. Metrics such as the percentage of homeowners that completed a retrofit measure, total retrofit investment, and the total number of retrofitted measures were evaluated to determine program impact and are described in this report.

Wiping out top predators messes up the climate

Read the full story in New Scientist.

Wiping out top predators like lions, wolves and sharks is tragic, bad for ecosystems – and can make climate change worse. Mass extinctions of the big beasts of the jungles, grasslands and oceans could already be adding to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.