Effect of energy audits on the adoption of energy-efficiency measures by small companies
Energy audits for companies have been promoted since more than four decades, but no evaluation has yet been carried out which is based on the counterfactual behaviour of a large comparable control group. This paper empirically analyses the effect of the German energy audit program on small participating companies' decision to adopt energy efficiency measures. Non-parametric propensity score matching estimators are employed to estimate the average effect of the audit on more than 500 small companies (< 50 employees) participating in the program thereby relying on also more than 500 observations from a control group survey. Our findings so far are fairly robust across alternative matching algorithms and suggest that audit participation resulted in higher adoption of lower cost measures in particular, i.e. of energy efficient lighting (+ 20 percentage points) and of measures optimizing the heating system (+ 28 percentage points). The audit increased the adoption of thermal insulation measures by about 11 percentage points and of heating replacements by about 6-15 percentage points. Thus, the energy audits roughly doubled the adoption rates of energy efficient lighting, thermal insulation and heating replacements, and almost quadrupled the rates for heating optimization. For measures which companies had considered for implementation independent of the audit but had not (yet) planned to implement them, the audit effect remains the same for the lower cost measures, and increases significantly for the higher cost measures. Thus for the four measures considered, audits may contribute little to overcoming the lack of information about technology availability. Instead, energy audits appear to rather help overcome organizational barriers like intra-company priority setting, or lack of strategic importance.