Address Residential Energy Use in Local Planning

Carving out a specific energy savings target for residential buildings in your municipality’s comprehensive plan, local energy plan, climate action plan, or broader sustainability strategy helps place your community on a path toward achieving your overall energy reduction goals. When developing residential energy savings goals, decide if you want to achieve a percentage reduction from baseline residential energy consumption, a percentage of the housing stock for energy savings, or a combination thereof.

Residential energy efficiency programs can address a range of housing types (e.g., single family, multifamily, manufactured homes) and ownership structures (e.g., owner-occupied, rented, leased). Energy efficiency can also be integrated with new or existing affordable housing programs, such as direct assistance or additional incentives for energy efficiency improvements in low-to-moderate income housing. Consider including goals for both single family and multifamily housing, and for specific target sectors like low-income housing. Regardless of which path you choose, it is important to establish a baseline for energy use and expenditures, develop performance metrics for programs and strategies, and track progress toward goals over time.  << Back to Main Page

Setting Targets for Residential Energy Savings. In the example highlighted, setting a target of 50% energy savings per building in 25% of your residential building stock would result in 12.5% overall residential energy savings.
Community Energy Strategic Plan Process

Residential Energy Data Facts:  This webpage provides data points and sources frequently requested of the U.S. Department of Energy when planning, evaluating, or marketing residential energy efficiency programs. It includes national residential energy facts, consumer home energy upgrade facts, and links to additional residential energy data sources.

City Energy Profiles: Provides comprehensive energy use and activity data that can help cities plan and implement clean energy projects. A city's energy profile includes summary reports on: greenhouse gas emissions, electricity generation, natural gas and other fuel source costs, renewable energy resource potential, Transportation, buildings, and industry data.

ResStock: ResStock provides highly granular modeling of the U.S. housing stock, allowing you to characterize your housing stock and prioritize energy saving measures.

Cities Leading through Energy Analysis and Planning (Cities-LEAP) : Cities-LEAP supports the widespread implementation of city-sponsored data-driven energy policies, programs, and projects that have the potential to drive a sea change in the national energy landscape. Through the Cities-LEAP resources, cities can: set climate or energy goals, prioritize and implement energy strategies, see the impacts of potential climate or energy action plans, learn from peers about city energy planning best practices, get access to credible data and transparent, usable analytic methodologies, and make data-driven energy decisions.

Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool: Understand your low-to-moderate income community characteristics, energy expenses, and energy burden with the LEAD Tool.


Guide to Community Energy Strategic Planning: This guide introduces a step-by-step process for creating a robust strategic energy plan for your community that can help save money, create local jobs, and improve our national security. It offers tools and tips to complete each step and highlights examples from successful planning efforts around the country. Local governments and community stakeholders can use the CESP framework to build on initial energy successes by moving from single projects to a comprehensive, long-term energy strategy that delivers benefits for years to come.

Evaluating Energy Efficiency Potential in Low-Income Households: A Flexible and Granular Approach: This 2019 DOE and NREL study uses a new approach to evaluating energy efficiency potential that provides a more accurate, granular, and flexible estimate of the cost-effective energy efficiency potential in households of various income ranges. The study estimates that energy efficiency packages tailored to maximize net present value could result in an estimated $13 billion per year in energy cost savings, or $670 per year, for average single-family households with income less than 200% of the federal poverty level.

  • Arlington County, VA:
    Arlington County’s award-winning Community Energy Plan  is Arlington’s vision for eliminating energy waste, cutting energy costs, and reducing the community’s carbon footprint by 75% by 2050. It was adopted in 2013 as an element of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, with an update planned for 2019. The plan includes a specific energy reduction target for residential buildings – 55% reduction in energy use on average (per square foot) by 2050, as compared to 2007 levels. Milestones include 5% less energy use on average than 2007 levels by 2020, 25% less on average than 2007 levels by 2030, and 40% less on average than 2007 levels by 2040. Additionally, the county’s Affordable Housing Master Plan, also a component of the comprehensive plan, encourages energy efficiency in new and renovated affordable housing to advance the goals of the Community Energy Plan.
  • Boise, ID:
    The City of Boise’s Comprehensive Plan includes an environmental stewardship goal of  reducing water and energy consumption in new and existing development. The plan specifically sets a goal for energy and water use reductions in both new and existing residential buildings. For new construction, the plan calls for the establishment of incentives for documented energy and water use reductions that meet minimum energy efficiency levels equal to EnergyStar NW requirements, and supports efforts to achieve net zero energy use in new residential construction by 2030. The plan also calls for creating incentives for existing buildings, with the highest priority on retrofits that result in the most significant decrease in energy or water use, such as the installation of high-efficiency furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
  • Chicago, IL:
    Chicago’s Climate Action Plan calls on the city to improve the efficiency of 50% of its residential buildings to achieve a 30% reduction in energy use, including retrofitting 60,000 residential units by 2018 and 400,000 residential units by 2020. It also calls for the city to update its city energy code to the latest international standards, and requires all building renovations to meet green standards. Within the first two years of the climate action plan’s implementation, residential retrofits grew 12-fold.
  • Cleveland, OH:
    Cleveland’s 2018 update to its Climate Action Plan calls for a 50% reduction in residential and commercial energy use by 2030. The plan specifically highlights an objective to make more homes affordable, comfortable, healthy, and energy efficient using the following actions: 1) Educate owners and tenants of affordable, multifamily housing about cost-savings gained from energy efficient homes through training programs, 2) Hold regular workshops with building contractors on green building best practices, and 3) Expand marketing plan for home weatherization citywide
  • Denver, CO:
    Denver’s 80x50 Climate Action Plan includes a target to decrease energy consumption in single family homes by 10 percent by 2025 and 20 percent by 2035. In order to achieve this, the city plans to do the following: provide guidance and develop strategies to drive investments in energy efficiency and behavioral-based changes; establish minimum energy standards for rental housing and engage property owners to ensure that energy efficiency, renewable energy adoption, and other emissions reduction strategies from fuel switching are implemented cost-effectively for residents; continue to provide resources on existing financing and incentive programs and encourage residents to fully utilize Xcel Energy and Denver programs; explore how sharing a home’s energy score during the home buying and selling process can result in energy and utility bill savings; and use the Sustainable Neighborhoods certification program to enable residents to become active partners in making Denver a vibrant and sustainable community, and to help facilitate deeper engagement and actions related to residential energy efficiency.
  • Tucson, AZ:
    Tucson’s Climate Action Plan calls for a Tucson Community Climate Challenge to accomplish the following by 2020: (1) a $400-1200 investment in energy efficiency retrofits in 15,000 residences, (2) PV systems installed in 400 additional residences, (3) solar thermal installed in 400 additional residences, (4) more efficient air conditioning units installed in 10,000 residences, (5) smart meters in all homes, and (6) homeowner support for new residential construction to have improved energy efficiency through cool roofs, smart meters, ENERGY STAR air conditioners, and solar thermal.