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