Residential Building Codes Do Save Energy: Evidence From Hourly Smart-Meter Data

In 1978, California adopted building codes designed to reduce the energy used for heating and cooling. Using a rich dataset of hourly electricity consumption for 158,112 California houses, we estimate that the average house built just after 1978 uses 13% less electricity for cooling than a similar house built just before 1978. Comparing the estimated savings to the policy’s projected cost, we conclude that the policy comfortably passes a cost-benefit test.   

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