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Compact fluorescent lighting and residential natural gas consumption: Testing for interactive effects

  • Brunner, Eric J.
  • Ford, Peter S.
  • McNulty, Mark A.
  • Thayer, Mark A.

Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) has traditionally been seen as a cost effective means of promoting energy conservation. Recently, however, the magnitude of energy savings associated with CFLs has been called into question. Specifically, recent findings suggest an "interactive effect" associated with the replacement of incandescent light bulbs with CFLs in the residential sector. In this scenario, the reduced wattage of CFLs, relative to incandescent bulbs, generates less heat, which in turn, requires additional natural gas usage during the heating season. Engineering studies suggest the magnitude of the effect is significant in energy terms, which implies that the energy savings associated with CFLs may be significantly overstated. In this paper, we use billing analysis to test for the presence of interactive effects. Our analysis is based on a comprehensive dataset that includes monthly household electricity and natural gas usage, the number of CFL bulbs installed, the installation date, and a set of household characteristics. Our results suggest that CFLs do indeed save electricity. However, we do not find any support for the hypothesis that CFLs cause increased usage of natural gas.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V2W-4XWMGT3-2/2/ece379d2405a130430da7e0b3049f896
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 1288-1296

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Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:3:p:1288-1296
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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  1. Sanchez, Marla C. & Brown, Richard E. & Webber, Carrie & Homan, Gregory K., 2008. "Savings estimates for the United States Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR voluntary product labeling program," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2098-2108, June.
  2. Frederick D. Sebold & Eric W. Fox, 1985. "Realized Savings from Residential Conservation Activity," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 73-88.
  3. Wall, Rob & Crosbie, Tracey, 2009. "Potential for reducing electricity demand for lighting in households: An exploratory socio-technical study," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 1021-1031, March.
  4. Kevin A. Hassett & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 1997. "Measuring the Energy Savings from Home Improvements Investments: Evidence from Monthly Billing Data," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9701, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Banerjee, Abhijit & Solomon, Barry D., 2003. "Eco-labeling for energy efficiency and sustainability: a meta-evaluation of US programs," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 109-123, January.
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