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How Consumers Respond to Environmental Certification and the Value of Energy Information

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  • Sébastien Houde
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    Abstract

    The ENERGY STAR certification is a voluntary labeling that favors the adoption of energy efficient products. In the US appliance market, the label is a coarse summary of otherwise readily accessible information. Using micro-data of the US refrigerator market, I develop a structural demand model and find that consumers respond to certification in different ways. Some consumers have a large willingness to pay for the label, well beyond the energy savings associated with certified products; others appear to pay attention to electricity costs, but not to the certification, and still others appear to be insensitive to both electricity costs and ENERGY STAR. The findings suggest that the certification acts as a substitute for more accurate, but complex energy information. Using the structural model, I find that the opportunity cost of having imperfectly informed consumers in the refrigerator market ranges from $12 to $17 per refrigerator sold.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 20019.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2014
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20019

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    1. Meghan R. Busse & Christopher R. Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2013. "Are Consumers Myopic? Evidence from New and Used Car Purchases," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 220-56, February.
    2. Ward, David O. & Clark, Christopher D. & Jensen, Kimberly L. & Yen, Steven T. & Russell, Clifford S., 2011. "Factors influencing willingness-to-pay for the ENERGY STAR® label," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 1450-1458, March.
    3. Soren T. Anderson & Ryan Kellogg & James M. Sallee & Richard T. Curtin, 2011. "Forecasting Gasoline Prices Using Consumer Surveys," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 110-14, May.
    4. Koichiro Ito, 2014. "Do Consumers Respond to Marginal or Average Price? Evidence from Nonlinear Electricity Pricing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(2), pages 537-63, February.
    5. David Dranove & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2010. "Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice," NBER Working Papers 15644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michael Greenstone & Elizabeth Kopits & Ann Wolverton, 2011. "Estimating the Social Cost of Carbon for Use in U.S. Federal Rulemakings: A Summary and Interpretation," NBER Working Papers 16913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bento, Antonio M. & Li, Shanjun & Roth, Kevin, 2012. "Is there an energy paradox in fuel economy? A note on the role of consumer heterogeneity and sorting bias," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 44-48.
    8. McWhinney, Marla & Fanara, Andrew & Clark, Robin & Hershberg, Craig & Schmeltz, Rachel & Roberson, Judy, 2005. "ENERGY STAR product specification development framework: using data and analysis to make program decisions," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1613-1625, August.
    9. James M. Sallee, 2013. "Rational Inattention and Energy Efficiency," NBER Working Papers 19545, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
    11. Steven T. Berry, 1994. "Estimating Discrete-Choice Models of Product Differentiation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 242-262, Summer.
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