HARC is working with the City of Houston and Rice University to evaluate the program effectiveness of the City’s residential energy efficiency program. Since 2007, the City of Houston has implemented the Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP) which has weatherized more than 19,000 residential housing units, both single family and multi-family. In 2009, the City received a $23 million grant from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funding program allowing for considerable expansion of the program. The City continues the program today with financial the assistance of CenterPoint Energy’s residential energy efficiency program.
The project is led by Dr. Gavin Dillingham, Research Scientist in Clean Energy Policy. The study focuses on the degree of energy savings and the longevity of the savings that occur through REEP. The energy efficiency measures implemented through REEP have been proven to reduce energy consumption. However, there is still significant uncertainty as to how the occupants in these households influence these savings over time. Particularly, there is some question as to the degree of the rebound effect that may occur after these measures are installed. The extent of the rebound effect may lead to suboptimal energy savings outcomes which would make it very difficult to rely on energy efficiency as a resource.
With the participation of the City, HARC will implement a randomized, controlled trial research design to evaluate energy efficiency program effectiveness. HARC will then identify the appropriate programs and technology that must be put in place to better ensure the certainty of energy savings over the long-term.