Split incentives and energy efficiency in Canadian multi-family dwellings
This paper examines the energy-related behaviour of owners and occupants of multi-family dwellings in Canada, some of whom do not pay directly for electricity or heat, but instead have these costs included in their rent or condo fees. Using data from the 2003 Survey of Household Energy Use, we look at the extent to which split incentives that result from bill-paying arrangements affect a variety of activities including the setting of temperatures at various times of the day and the use of eco-friendly options in basic household tasks. Findings suggest that these split incentives do indeed impact some aspects of occupant behaviour, with households who do not pay directly for their heat opting for increased thermal comfort and being less sensitive to whether or not somebody is at home and the severity of the climate when deciding on temperature settings. Regardless of who pays for utilities, Canadian households who live in multi-family dwellings are generally unresponsive to fuel prices. Our empirical results suggest the possibility of environmental benefits from policies aimed at improving energy-efficiency in this sector, especially if targeted at reducing the impacts of the behaviour of those who do not pay directly for energy use.
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