• Housing Discrimination Today
  • Volume 17, Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
 

Industrial Revolution: Rural America:Perceptions of Residential Energy Retrofits

Nathan Barry
University of Nebraska at Kearney


Industrial Revolution
Every home makes compromises among different and often competing goals: comfort, convenience, durability, energy consumption, maintenance, construction costs, appearance, strength, community acceptance, and resale value. Often consumers and developers making the tradeoffs among these goals do so with incomplete information, increasing the risks and slowing the adoption of innovative products and processes. This slow diffusion negatively affects productivity, quality, performance, and value. This department of
Cityscape presents, in graphic form, a few promising technological improvements to the U.S. housing stock. If you have an idea for a future department feature, please send your diagram or photograph, along with a few, well-chosen words, to elizabeth.a.cocke@hud.gov.


Residential energy consumption accounts for most of the overall energy use in the United States (Pew Center Global Climate Change, 2008). Although many larger municipalities are successfully implementing residential energy retrofit programs, these benefits are currently not being seen in most rural townships. Seeking an opportunity to understand and reduce energy consumption in these areas, this study examines how the aging housing stock and owners’ perceptions of energy retrofits affect the overall performance of the home. Using the small agricultural community of Woodbine, Iowa, the study compares 3 years of actual historical energy data with the homeowners’ perceptions of energy retrofits. The statistical analysis of the perceptions survey not only shows that homeowners changing their energy use habits has a positive effect on lowering energy consumption, but also that homeowners perceiving that they have changed their energy use habits also plays a critical role in reducing their use of energy. The results indicate that the homeowners’ simple awareness of their improved energy use practices can have a positive effect on lowering their monthly utility bills without having to invest large amounts of money into energy reduction.

 

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