Released in October by the US Census Bureau, the 2013 American Housing Survey (AHS) is an enormous record of home improvement priorities for homeowners across the country. Remodeling is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US, and in the past few decades some of that remodeling has focused a little bit less on first adding value to the home and a little bit more on first saving the current homeowner money.
Energy efficiency projects emphasize lowering utility costs while hopefully driving up value. According to the Survey, this includes any project the homeowner identifies as having been completed for the purpose of energy efficiency. The jobs could therefore fall anywhere on a wide range of size and cost from replacing a window to changing source of electricity.
Nearly a quarter of all owner-occupied units that made a home improvement within the two years leading up to the 2013 AHS completed at least one energy efficiency project—a total of 7,142,000 owner-occupied units. Specifically, 9.44 percent of all owner-occupied units across the country and 23.49 percent of all owner-occupied units having made improvements completed an energy efficiency project. At the regional level, the South leads with 2,245,000 homeowners making an energy efficiency improvement. Also provided by the Census data is a breakdown by owner-occupied units in the central city, within the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) outside the center city, and the less densely populated suburbs and rural areas outside the MSA. The bulk of energy efficiency projects take place within the metro area, but not the center city. The suburbs, hailed as the least energy efficient choice in community, are where homeowners are most motivated to reduce energy use.
Nearly 25 percent of owner-occupied units that improved their home with energy efficiency in mind received federal or state tax credits or financial incentives from the utility company for the project. More importantly, however, is that three-quarters, more than five million homeowners, completed projects without financial incentive or tax credit, indicating the incentive to save money on utility costs is enough incentive. Here, again, is a regional and urban versus rural breakdown of where homeowners had additional incentives or tax credits. While regionally incentives are dispersed pretty evenly, once again the bulk in just outside cities.
Most importantly, 75 percent of homeowners who remodeled with energy efficiency in mind didn't rely on financial incentives or tax credits. Energy savings and going green were incentive enough.