Do energy retrofits work? Evidence from commercial and residential buildings in Phoenix

Jing Liang, Yueming Qiu, Timothy James, Benjamin L. Ruddell, Michael Dalrymple, Stevan Earl, Alex Castelazo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


There is an ongoing debate whether energy efficiency retrofits save energy in practice. This paper quantifies the energy savings of the Energize Phoenix program in Phoenix, Arizona. Impacts of retrofits are analyzed using pre-post treatment billing data from January 2008 to April 2013, covering 201 residential buildings and 636 commercial buildings. There are five types of retrofits for residential buildings and six types for commercial buildings. Empirical results from fixed effects panel regression models indicate monthly energy savings of 12% for commercial buildings and 8% for residential buildings. The realized energy savings are 30–50% lower than those predicted by engineering models. We have also separated the energy savings provided by individual retrofits and retrofit bundles, and estimate how the effectiveness of retrofits varies based on building attributes, all of which should be considered when making energy efficiency decisions. Learning effects are also observed in this program, which means as the post-retrofit time increases, there is a possibility for improved learning and control of energy use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-743
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Economics and Management
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • Commercial buildings
  • Energy efficiency
  • Energy savings
  • Fixed effects
  • Q41
  • Q49
  • R22
  • Residential buildings
  • Retrofits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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