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Householder's Perceptions of Insulation Adequacy and Drafts in the Home in 2001

August 1, 2004


In order to improve the estimation of end-use heating consumption, the Energy Information Administration's (EIA), 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), for the first time, asked respondents to judge how drafty they perceived their homes to be as a measure of insulation quality. The analysis of the 2001 RECS data shows that householders in newlyconstructed homes perceived their homes to be better insulated and less drafty than do householders in older homes. Single-family homes are perceived to be better insulated and less drafty than are apartments in buildings with two to four units. Cross-variable comparisons also provide the associations between the level of insulation and winter drafts in the homes with household characteristics and location of the home.

Introduction In the past, EIA has tried to collect technical information regarding building shells and insulation. However, the effort has not been successful. Typically, the respondents1 do not know technical details such as the type of insulation in their homes, the r-value2 of the insulation, and the air infiltration rate. In 2001 RECS,3 EIA tried a different approach. This approach relied on the respondents’ ability to provide the energy-related details of their homes in another manner by asking questions that substitute, i.e., for insulation levels and building shell construction. These new questions concerned the level of insulation and draftiness of the respondent's home. There were two reasons for collecting this information. One was to have some estimates, however rough, of the extent of insulation; the other was to improve the estimation of space-heating consumption. EIA found that the respondents can usually provide a reasonable assessment of how well their home is insulated and how drafty their home is in the winter. More specifically, the following two questions were asked to collect these data:

  1. Overall, would you say that your home is . . .
    1. Well insulated,
    2. Adequately insulated, or
    3. Poorly insulated?
    4. No insulation (if volunteered)
    5. Don't know
  2. How often do you or other members of your household find your home too drafty during the winter? Would you say it is. . .
    1. All the time,
    2. Most of the time,
    3. Some of the time, or
    4. Never?

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