Middle income households – those earning between $32,500 and $72,500 annually – make up one-third of the residential energy use in the United States, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). But the lab is touting steps that energy-efficiency program managers can take to help that demographic reduce their energy bills.
The Berkeley Lab‘s recommendations begin with framing the energy conversation as an investment to increase the value of one’s home. The lab goes on to suggest considering tiered work packages and financial incentives based on income to incentivize energy savings, and it advises looking at utility bill repayment history to increase the number of middle-income households who qualify for energy-upgrade financing.
“This economic middle of the country is highly diverse. One size does not fit all,” Ian Hoffman, co-author and a researcher in the lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, said in a statement. “The keys to energy and cost savings in the residential sector are flexibility and innovation in what efficiency programs offer these households and a framework of policies that supports delivering these savings.”
According to the study, providing energy efficiency improvements to just one-third of these middle-income, single-family households could save roughly as much energy each year as is used by every home in Houston, Phoenix and San Francisco.
The report also looks at things both states and utility regulators can do to reach energy savings targets, pointing to solutions such as implementing building codes and appliance equipment efficiency standards. The report also suggests that governments adopt energy labeling, disclosures and upgrades to make energy efficiency more visible and valuable in the home real estate market.