Sustainability and cost assessment of coastal vacation homes for energy retrofits

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

Publication Date



Purpose Vacation rental homes, in general, have different energy usage characteristics than traditional residential homes mainly because of the occupancy pattern that changes on a weekly basis. These homes, predominantly larger in size, offer a greater scope for energy savings also because of the wasteful habits of their seasonal occupants. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the causes of energy inefficiencies prevalent in these homes so that appropriate retrofit choices can be offered to homeowners. Design/methodology/approach This research presents a case study of a vacation rental home whose energy consumption was investigated in depth and energy inefficiencies identified through modeling using energy modeling software, eQUEST. Simulations were performed to identify viable retrofit scenarios. Findings While improvement in the building envelope such as providing shades/overhangs on the windows, reducing infiltration and increasing insulation of the exterior wall did not show promising results for savings on energy cost, other improvements such as use of highly efficient lamps, tank-less water heater system and occupancy sensors showed viable investment options with shorter payback periods. It was also found that energy use intensity of sampled houses was about half of the average of US residential buildings, which could primarily be attributed to the seasonal nature of occupancy of these houses. Originality/value There is a dearth of literature pertaining to energy efficiency-related retrofits of coastal vacation homes. This research fills that gap to some extent by addressing this issue with an ultimate aim of assisting homeowners in retrofit decision-making.