The goal of this thesis is to estimate the total emissions avoided from replacing residential lighting and air conditioning with more energy efficient versions, while showing that the marginal emissions factor (MEF) approach to estimating these avoided emissions tends to be a more accurate method than the average emissions factor (AEF) approach. This thesis is the first to use MEFs to analyze emissions avoided from household energy efficiency improvements. This approach considers emissions avoided from the last power plant that would have been dispatched to meet demand, in contrast to the more commonly used AEF approach that considers emissions avoided from all the plants in the area.

This paper provides quantifiable results that indicate the amount of energy saved by the appliance efficiency improvement, the cost savings for the utilities on the margin, the cost savings for the consumer, and the emissions avoided in terms of CO2, SO2, and NOx using both the MEF and AEF methods. These results provide data that is of concern for many different stakeholders, including utilities, consumers, society, and the environment.

The results of the lighting analysis indicate that it’s economical for all households in the U.S. to upgrade their lightbulbs to LEDs. Depending on location, a household can save $50-$300/yr. on its electricity bill from this efficiency improvement. Using the MEF method, between 600 and 1,400 kilograms of CO2/yr. will be avoided per household. From these results, it’s recommended that stricter lightbulb efficiency standards be implemented. In contrast, results from the air conditioning analysis indicate that it’s only economical for households in a few southern locations to upgrade their air conditioners to more efficient versions, and these houses will avoid 300-900 kilograms of CO2/yr. It is recommended that standards for upgrading to more efficient air conditioners be localized to account for regional climate variations.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Greenhouse gas mitigation; Household appliances--Energy conservation; Air conditioning--Energy conservation; Dwellings--Lighting--Energy conservation

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Public Policy (CLA)


Eric Hittinger

Advisor/Committee Member

Margaret Bailey

Advisor/Committee Member

Franz Foltz


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at TX298 .S64 2016


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