Customer outcomes in Pay-As-You-Save programs
We review the energy and financial outcomes of households participating in several programs based on successive versions of the Pay As You Save¯ (PAYS¯) system. PAYS¯ programs offer non-debt financing for energy efficiency (and sometimes other technologies) in residential buildings through a tariff attached to the home’s utility meter, designed to be offset by project savings. We find that the five programs we study generally serve customers living in zip codes with levels of income and education below the national average and unemployment rates above the national average, demonstrating their potential to improve equity in energy efficiency adoption. Using weather-normalized analysis of energy consumption data, we show that most customers of Midwest Energy’s program reduce annual electricity and gas consumption, averaging 15% and 26% reductions respectively. Changes in energy consumption calculated using this method represent a combination of project effects and changes in occupant behavior. These results are similar to existing analyses of PAYS¯ programs in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee. About half of participating Midwest households generate sufficient energy cost savings to cover their monthly tariff. Various factors, including changes in occupant behavior, program error, causes independent of the customer or program, or some combination thereof may explain lower-than-expected cost reductions in some projects. Given the inherent variability in annual household electricity consumption, we feel these programs are enabling energy efficiency improvements and their attendant co-benefits, including occupant health and comfort and reduced carbon emissions, while reasonably balancing energy savings and tariff costs. Pairing PAYS¯ with additional financial assistance, as well as promoting cost-effective measures such as air and duct sealing, could further broaden program participation by enabling additional projects to meet PAYS¯ program eligibility rules.