Factors affecting wood energy consumption by U.S. households
About 23% of energy derived from woody sources in the U.S. was consumed by households, of which 70% was used by households in rural areas in 2005. We investigated factors affecting household-level wood energy consumption in the four continental U.S. regions using data from the U.S. Residential Energy Consumption Survey. To account for a large number of zero observations (i.e., households that do not burn wood), left-censored Tobit models were estimated. Urban/rural location is a key determinant of level of household wood energy consumption. Wood energy consumption elasticity with respect to non-wood energy price changes was 1.55 at the U.S. level, and a much higher 2.30 among rural households. While household wood energy consumption was affected primarily by non-wood energy price in rural areas, it was influenced mainly by household size and level of income in urban areas. Elasticity of wood energy consumption with respect to income can be positive or negative depending on household urban/rural location, region and income level. Newer houses were found to use less wood energy than older ones, and greater urbanization was found to have negative effect on wood energy use. Our findings suggest that policies reducing relative wood energy cost or increasing non-wood energy prices in the residential sector will result in greater wood energy consumption in the U.S. The effect of policies may vary by region and are likely to be more effective in U.S. rural areas and in the U.S. Midwest in particular.
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