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Working Papers

Abstract

WP-046: Peter Christensen, Paul Francisco, Erica Myers, and Mateus Souza "Decomposing the Wedge Between Projected and Realized Returns in Energy Efficiency Programs" 

(February 2021)

Evaluations of energy efficiency programs reveal that realized savings consistently fall short of projections. We decompose this 'performance wedge' using data from the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) and a machine learning-based event study research design. We find that bias in engineering models can account for up to 41% of the wedge, primarily from overestimated savings in wall insulation. Heterogeneity in workmanship can also account for a large fraction (43%) of the wedge, while the rebound effect can explain only 6%. We find substantial heterogeneity in energy-related benefits from IHWAP projects, suggesting opportunities for better targeting of investments.