Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Community Development

Home Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Risks: An Extended Abstract

Author(s):

March 2014

Community Development Investment Review

In recent years, home energy efficiency (EE) has progressed from the margins to the mainstream. However, many households are deterred by large upfront costs and longer payback periods, so are missing significant opportunities to implement cost effective energy savings measures in their homes. Financing would help overcome these obstacles. However, the use of loans for energy efficiency upgrades has been low. In particular, as de T’Sercales (2007) points out, lenders have not promoted loans for energy efficiency upgrades because of lack of information about the relationship between energy efficiency and risks. We provide initial evidence of the associative relationship between home energy efficiency and mortgage risks. Using a national sample, compared to non-ENERGY STAR houses, we find that the odds of default for households in ENERGY STAR houses are 32 percent lower and odds of prepayment are 28 percent lower. Furthermore, the greater the efficiency within the ENERGY STAR residences, the lower the risk of default. These results are reported in Cityscape by Kaza, Quercia and Tian (2014) and this paper summarizes them.

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