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Marketing energy efficiency: perceived benefits and barriers to home energy efficiency

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Energy efficiency contributes significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the associated mitigation of climate change. The uptake of energy efficiency measures in the residential sector requires significant effort on the part of homeowners or residents. Past research has revealed that cost savings and social interaction motivate energy efficiency behavior. This study expands on this research by examining the hypothesis that there are regional differences in what motivates individuals to implement home energy efficiency upgrades. Two surveys (N = 320 and N = 423) examine the perceived benefits of and barriers to undertaking home energy efficiency improvements in varying geographic regions across the USA and test marketing materials that target these benefits and barriers. The hypothesis that there are regional differences in perceptions of energy efficiency was confirmed. Cost savings were found to be the most important benefit to individuals across the country. Energy efficiency being a good investment is either the second or third most important benefit across all regions. Increased comfort is the last of the top three most important benefits to those in the South and Midwest, while those in the Northeast demonstrated interest in the increase in home retail value associated with energy efficiency, and those in the West found the environmental benefits to be important. High costs of energy efficiency improvements were found to be the most commonly perceived barrier. Reported likelihood to enroll in a home energy efficiency program offered by one’s employer was predicted by perceived likelihood that coworkers would enroll, income level, and personal opinions about the importance of energy efficiency.

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The authors would like to thank Jason Elliott of the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative for his input and support in this research. This research was completed as the capstone master’s project for the Master of Environmental Management degree for the first three authors.


This research is supported by funding from the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative at Duke University.

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Correspondence to Jennifer C. Cole.

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Cole, J.C., McDonald, J.B., Wen, X. et al. Marketing energy efficiency: perceived benefits and barriers to home energy efficiency. Energy Efficiency 11, 1811–1824 (2018).

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