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Knowledge Is (Less) Power: Experimental Evidence from Residential Energy Use

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  • Katrina Jessoe
  • David Rapson

Abstract

Imperfect information about product attributes inhibits efficiency in many choice settings, but can be overcome by providing simple, lowcost information. We use a randomized control trial to test the effect of high-frequency information about residential electricity usage on the price elasticity of demand. Informed households are three standard deviations more responsive to temporary price increases, an effect that is not attributable to price salience. Conservation extends beyond pricing events in the short and medium run, providing evidence of habit formation and implying that the intervention leads to greenhouse gas abatement. Survey evidence suggests that information facilitates learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Katrina Jessoe & David Rapson, 2014. "Knowledge Is (Less) Power: Experimental Evidence from Residential Energy Use," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1417-1438, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:4:p:1417-38
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.4.1417
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Severin Borenstein & Stephen Holland, 2005. "On the Efficiency of Competitive Electricity Markets with Time-Invariant Retail Prices," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 36(3), pages 469-493, Autumn.
    2. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1082-1095, October.
    3. Severin Borenstein, 2002. "The Trouble With Electricity Markets: Understanding California's Restructuring Disaster," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 191-211, Winter.
    4. Jacobsen, Grant D. & Kotchen, Matthew J. & Vandenbergh, Michael P., 2012. "The behavioral response to voluntary provision of an environmental public good: Evidence from residential electricity demand," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(5), pages 946-960.
    5. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
    6. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2009. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1145-1177, September.
    7. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Rethinking real-time electricity pricing," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 820-842.
    8. Severin Borenstein, 2005. "The Long-Run Efficiency of Real-Time Electricity Pricing," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 93-116.
    9. Lei Feng & Mark Seasholes, 2005. "Do Investor Sophistication and Trading Experience Eliminate Behavioral Biases in Financial Markets?," Review of Finance, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 305-351, September.
    10. Ahmad Faruqui & Sanem Sergici, 2010. "Household response to dynamic pricing of electricity: a survey of 15 experiments," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 193-225, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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