Policy makers and program designers in the U.S. and abroad are deeply concerned with the question of how to scale up energy efficiency to a level that is commensurate both to the energy and climate challenges we face, and to the potential for energy savings that has been touted for decades. When policy makers ask what energy efficiency can do, the answers usually revolve around the technical and economic potential of energy efficiency—they rarely hone in on the element of energy demand that matters most for changing energy usage in existing homes: the consumer. A growing literature is concerned with the behavioral underpinnings of energy consumption. We examine a narrower, related subject: How can millions of Americans be persuaded to divert valued time and resources into upgrading their homes to eliminate energy waste, avoid high utility bills, and spur the economy?
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