Monday, November 13, 2023
5:15 PM - 6:45 PM
The Energy Efficiency Disconnect for Homeowners in Michigan
Session ID
Poster Presentations
Behavior - based Programs

Energy efficiency has been posed in recent literature as a priority solution to energy insecurity and the disparate impacts of poor housing quality on vulnerable populations, yet energy efficiency improvements have also been shown to cause unintended negative consequences for low-income households, such as property damage. Behavioral research on energy efficiency adoption often focuses on renovations as decisions for physical changes to a home without considering the domestic context from which they emerge. This study explores energy audits as a catalyst for energy efficiency investment decision making among homeowners and examines energy insecurity as both a driving and mitigating factor in adopting energy efficiency using semi-structured interviews. It constitutes the second year of a mixed-methods pilot study on residential heating electrification and energy efficiency in 51 single family homes in Michigan, during which participants have already received a professional energy audit and answered a demographic survey. We employ a relational interview approach to elicit head of household responses that address our research objectives: (1) to understand household decision making factors that drive home improvements or limit their potential to be built; (2) to assess the usefulness of information presented to households and how they use that information in decision making to invest in energy efficiency; (3) to understand how increased utility cost due to electrified heating interact with energy efficiency decision making. Audio recordings of interviews are manually transcribed, and transcriptions are organized into literature-generated themes for energy insecurity and energy efficiency adoption using a qualitative data analysis tool. We also use inductive coding to identify the prevalence of common experiences and isolate quotes to provide context for those findings. This exploratory research supports energy efficiency policy and incentive development that reduce barriers to adoption across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Supporting Document 1