Many in Michigan, like countless others across the United States, live in energy inefficient, detached single-family homes. There is an enormous opportunity to decrease state residential energy consumption and its subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, improve occupant comfort, and bolster home values by auditing and retrofitting these homes with more efficient energy systems. In accordance with Michigan state law PA 295, DTE Energy maintains an energy optimization (EO) program aimed at conserving electricity and gas. Under this program, the utility company offers residential customers several options and incentives to invest in energy saving measures. However, participation by homeowners has been limited.
Through collaboration between the University of Michigan and DTE Energy, this project sought to evaluate the effectiveness of the utility’s audit-to-retrofit programs and overall residential EO program. Software tools—including MySQL (a relational database management system), R (a statistical analysis package), ArcGIS (a geographic information system), and SurveyGizmo (an online survey development platform) — facilitated quantitative and qualitative program evaluation. These findings informed actionable recommendations to increase program participation, improve customer satisfaction, and target future EO participants.
This comprehensive assessment examined both temporal and spatial scales and should help create better mechanisms for data storage, manipulation, and visualization. Large-scale data analysis in the context of residential energy efficiency is becoming increasingly necessary and important for utilities. An integrated approach such as the one laid out in this report could improve the way utilities like DTE Energy implement home energy efficiency programs, assess these programs, and help increase participation for future programs.