Home Energy Efficiency Retrofits in California: An Analysis of Sociocultural Factors Influencing Customer Adoption

Investigating social, cultural, and socioeconomic factors affecting energy efficiency adoption.

Center for Sustainable Energy


San Diego, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

CSE's analysis of 704 records sample revealed that using brochures with imagery of modest houses and families that appeared Hispanic (as opposed to imagery of large homes and non-Hispanic, Caucasian families) had a positive impact on sign-up rates in census tracts with a high concentration of Hispanics. Despite this increased number of sign-ups, phone interviews with 30 self-identified Hispanic participants found few had completed or planned major upgrades based on the energy audit recommendations, though minor upgrades like weather-stripping or light bulb replacements were more common. These results highlight the importance of tailoring outreach materials for energy efficiency programs, and the efficiency potential that can be accessed through improved program outreach.

The Issue

The current policy framework used to assess the adoption of residential energy efficiency measures is driven primarily by estimates of cost effectiveness. However, cost effectiveness calculations alone are inadequate to accurately predict adoption and market potential, as they do not capture the multitude of factors influencing the decision-making process of individual market sectors. Recent studies suggest that social, cultural and behavioral factors have a significant influence on the adoption of energy efficiency measures in residential households and should be considered in the decision-making process.

Project Innovation

This project conducted a multidisciplinary, data driven study to understand the role and interactions of various factors influencing the adoption and utilization of residential energy efficiency measures. The study provided awareness into the stand alone and interactive effects of factors such as income, ethnicity, language, and political orientation on the adoption of energy efficient technologies, with a primary focus on the Latino population in the Fresno area. Knowledge gained from this study can be used to enhance energy policy and program design to account for social, cultural, and behavioral factors.

Project Benefits

Senate Bill 350 (De Leon, 2015) sets energy efficiency targets for 2030 and allows for the targets to be achieved, in part, from utility programs that provide financial incentives and rebates to their customers to increase energy efficiency. This project will help increase customer participation in utility efficiency programs by better understanding the social, cultural and behavior aspects of the Hispanic subpopulation that discourage or prevent their participation.

Consumer Appeal

Consumer Appeal

Energy efficiency programs that incorporate social, behavioral and cultural aspects into the program design are likely to have greater appeal to potential customers.

Lower Costs


Understanding social, cultural and behavioral aspects can help utilities more cost-effectively and efficiently market their energy efficiency programs to hard-to-reach customer groups.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Erin Byod



Center for Sustainable Energy


Match Partners


Renovate America


Contact the Team