Rational Inattention and Energy Efficiency
AbstractIf time and effort are required to accurately ascertain the lifetime value of energy efficiency for a durable good, consumers might rationally ignore energy efficiency. This paper argues that such inattention may be rational in the market for automobiles and home appliances. To do so, it develops a heuristic model of a consumer's decision problem when purchasing an energy consuming durable good in which uncertainty about each good's energy efficiency can be resolved via costly effort. The model indicates under what conditions the consumer will be less likely to undertake this effort. The empirical portion of the paper argues that energy efficiency is often not pivotal to choice. This, along with a simulation of the automobile market, suggests that returns to paying attention to energy may be modest, and analysis of the information readily available to consumers suggests that the costs of being fully informed may be substantial. The paper discusses the implications of rational inattention for public policy and for empirical research on the energy paradox.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19545.
Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics; Underlying Principles
- H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
- Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-10-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-ENE-2013-10-25 (Energy Economics)
- NEP-REG-2013-10-25 (Regulation)
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- Richard G. Newell & Juha V. Siikamäki, 2013.
"Nudging Energy Efficiency Behavior: The Role of Information Labels,"
NBER Working Papers
19224, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Newell, Richard G. & Siikamäki, Juha, 2013. "Nudging Energy Efficiency Behavior: The Role of Information Labels," Discussion Papers dp-13-17, Resources For the Future.
- Hunt Allcott & Michael Greenstone, 2012.
"Is There an Energy Efficiency Gap?,"
NBER Working Papers
17766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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