Energy efficiency refers to using less energy to perform the same task. As climate change increases weather variability, energy efficiency may become more difficult. Projected climate impacts, such as the increased frequency of extreme heat, floods, and extreme weather events, will increase energy use and the risk of disruptions to a reliable energy supply.
Electricity demand is expected to increase as summertime cooling needs intensify with average temperatures. As average winter temperatures increase, the demand for heating will decrease. On average, however, the projected increased demand for cooling outweighs the decreased demand for heating. Moreover, as summertime temperatures last longer throughout the year, energy demands must match the season’s extension. Monetary savings from energy efficiency upgrades may be less than anticipated due to the increased annual demand for cooling.
Traditionally, many energy efficiency upgrades are not available to vulnerable populations. Upgrades are often costly and/or designed for single-family homes that some homeowners are unable to afford. Residents in single- or multi-family rental housing are likely unable to install upgrades even if they could afford them. Property owners often lack the motivation to do energy efficiency work since renters tend to pay their own energy bills and would not see the return on their investment. As climate change increases energy demand and utility bills, low-income households living in inefficient housing will face higher energy bills.