Earth Advantage Institute and Collaborators Release a Report Sponsored by the DOE on Home Energy Audit Behavioral Perspectives

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In conjunction with Portland State University, Research Into Action, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Earth Advantage Institute (EAI), a nonprofit sustainable building organization, has published a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report titled Behavioral Perspectives on Home Energy Audits. The report highlights the importance of building relationships with homeowners in order for energy efficiency programs to achieve success.

The research used 286 interviews conducted with homeowners after they received incentivized in-home energy audits through a Seattle City Light utility program. The Seattle City Light program exclusively uses CakeSystems℠ software (formerly called EPS Auditor Pro) in conjunction with the Energy Performance Score (EPS) label. The audits were conducted between June 2010 and October 2011 on 1,355 homes. The research specifically focused on the behavioral motivation behind home energy audits and home retrofits that may or may not follow an audit. The study asked homeowners a series of questions aimed at understanding their rationale for receiving an audit, their valuation of the audit, and the potential for seeking retrofits based on the audit.

The research concluded that decisions related to home upgrades are grounded in emotion and the homeowners’ commitment to remain in their home for more than two years. Ninety-five percent of all participants said that the EPS label was something they would want to see when purchasing a home. Eighty-two percent said they would reveal their EPS scores when selling their own homes. Despite the fact the audits were designed to focus only on hardware efficiency, 25 percent of participants changed their living behaviors based on the outcomes of the audit. Finally, 57 percent of those audited completed at least one of the recommended retrofits to their homes within a year.

According to the DOE-funded study, the “research underscores the importance of a shift toward homeowner perspectives, requiring more than simple repackaging of energy efficiency, but rather fuller appreciation of the position of the homeowner and the personal nature of homes.” The ability to conduct the physical aspects of an audit in conjunction with a detailed report that matches recommendations is key to building a relationship with a homeowner during an audit. Based on the research, this relationship appears to have the largest impact on homeowner decision making.

“The results of this report demonstrate the need for auditing software tools like CakeSystems that reinforce the ability of a home performance contractor to build trust through time spent with homeowners,” said David Heslam, director of business development for CakeSystems at EAI. “By explaining the audit and potential savings, and listening carefully to the homeowner’s concerns, a relationship can be built. The home is an emotional place and the decisions by homeowners about their own homes should be understood in that light.”

The report can found at EAI’s website:

About Earth Advantage Institute
Earth Advantage Institute works with the building and design industry to implement sustainable building practices. Its nonprofit mission is to create an immediate, practical, and cost effective path to sustainability and carbon reduction in the built environment. The organization achieves its objectives through a range of innovative certification, education, and technical services programs. Residential energy efficiency programs nationwide use its Energy Performance Score (EPS) label to estimate savings and measure home performance.

For more information contact:
Erik Cathcart
Director of Marketing
Earth Advantage Institute
503.968.7160 x21

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