Saving on Energy Bills: Meeting Families in the Middle

Wide landscape picture from afar of a middle-class neighborhood
December 2011

A study released today by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) identifies steps that energy efficiency program managers can take to deliver significant savings on home energy bills to middle-income households.

"Middle-income households have been hit hard by the recent recession, and sagging home prices have undermined the traditional reliance of middle-income households on home equity for financing home improvements," says Berkeley Lab's Mark Zimring, a researcher in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD) and co-author on the report. "It is really difficult to motivate them to invest in improving the efficiency of their homes, and to overcome the up-front cost barrier once they're motivated."

Middle-income households–those making about $32,500 to $72,500 per year–account for one-third of total U.S. residential energy use and figure prominently in meeting energy savings targets that now exist in most states, as well as reducing air emissions and managing demands on the grid.