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Individual Time Preferences and Energy Efficiency

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  • Richard G. Newell
  • Juha Siikamäki

Abstract

We examine the role of individual discount rates in energy efficiency decisions using evidence from an extensive survey of US homeowners to elicit preferences for energy efficiency and cash flows over time. We find considerable heterogeneity in individual discount rates. We also find that individual time preferences systematically influence willingness to invest in energy efficiency, as measured through product choices, required payback periods, and energy efficiency tax credit claims. Education is a key driver of individual discount rates. Our findings highlight the importance of individual discount rates to understanding energy efficiency investments, the energy-efficiency gap, and policy evaluation.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard G. Newell & Juha Siikamäki, 2015. "Individual Time Preferences and Energy Efficiency," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 196-200, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:5:p:196-200
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20151010
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins, 2017. "Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Gap," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1486-1525, December.
    2. Hunt Allcott & Nathan Wozny, 2014. "Gasoline Prices, Fuel Economy, and the Energy Paradox," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 779-795, December.
    3. Richard G. Newell & Juha Siikamäki, 2014. "Nudging Energy Efficiency Behavior: The Role of Information Labels," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 555-598.
    4. Maribeth Coller & Melonie Williams, 1999. "Eliciting Individual Discount Rates," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(2), pages 107-127, December.
    5. Steffen Andersen & Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & E. Rutström, 2009. "Elicitation using multiple price list formats," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(3), pages 365-366, September.
    6. Jerry A. Hausman, 1979. "Individual Discount Rates and the Purchase and Utilization of Energy-Using Durables," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 10(1), pages 33-54, Spring.
    7. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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