This policy paper posits a solution to a current problem in the American energy landscape.
There exists a clear need for more energy-efficient consumption on the consumer level to meet lower carbon goals and reduce strain on the energy grid. The status quo of rebate system to incentivize energy-efficient and green options is complex and has multiple points of uncertainty.
Despite rapidly lowering costs for these options, current research shows that consumers shy away from this complexity and the hurdles present for accessing savings, primary among the concerns being a lack of clarity on the actual savings for the purchaser.
The current system fails to meet its goals: despite attempting to target marginal customers, or those on the fence about a home upgrade, there is a large gap between the financial options offered to stimulate purchasing and consumer uptake of said options. The lack of consumer interest in energy-efficiency financing leaves money on the table and sets back carbon reduction goals.
An Energy Savings Account, or ESA, would be a possible solution for this financial policy need. This account would mirror a Health Savings Account, offering tax-exempt contributions and tax-exempt spending on energy-efficient home upgrades.
The ESA would attempt to address the issue of marginal customers and the overall need for more energy-efficient spending by taking advantage of the corporate desire for carbon-friendly options, a swath of financial institutions favorable to green savings vehicles, and consumers who despite a clear return on investment for energy-efficient upgrades find the current financial offerings for such spending daunting.
The ESA would be a strong policy tool for those looking to empower consumers in regards to energy-efficiency, and merits further exploration.
You can read the policy paper here: