An important factor driving energy policy over the past two decades has been the “energy paradox,” the perception that consumers apply unreasonably high hurdle rates to energy-saving investments. We explore one possible explanation for this apparent puzzle: that realized returns fall short of the returns promised by engineers and product manufacturers. Using a unique data set, we find that the realized return to attic insulation is statistically significant, but the median estimate (9.7%) is almost identical to a discount rate for this investment implied by a CAPM analysis. We conclude that the case for the energy paradox is weaker than has previously been believed.

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