IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Bridging the Energy Efficiency Gap: Policy Insights from Economic Theory and Empirical Evidence

  • Kenneth Gillingham
  • Karen Palmer

Despite several decades of government policies to promote energy efficiency, estimates of the costs and benefits of such policies remain controversial. At the heart of the controversy is whether there is an "energy efficiency gap," whereby consumers and firms fail to make seemingly positive net present value energy saving investments. High implicit discount rates, undervaluation of future fuel savings, and negative cost energy efficiency measures have all been discussed as evidence of the existence of a gap. We review explanations for an energy efficiency gap including reasons why the size of the gap may be overstated, neoclassical explanations for a gap, and recent evidence from behavioral economics that has potential to help us understand why a gap could exist. Our review raises fundamental questions about traditional welfare analysis, but we find the alternatives offered in the literature to be far from ready for use in policy analysis. Nevertheless, we offer several suggestions for policymakers and for future economic research. (JEL: Q38, Q41) Copyright 2014, Oxford University Press.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/reep/ret021
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Review of Environmental Economics and Policy.

Volume (Year): 8 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 18-38

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:8:y:2014:i:1:p:18-38
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP, UK

Fax: 01865 267 985
Web page: http://reep.oxfordjournals.org/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: http://www.oup.co.uk/journals

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. S. Dellavigna., 2011. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 4.
  2. Turrentine, Tom & Kurani, Kenneth S, 2007. "Car buyers and fuel economy?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt56x845v4, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
  3. Parry, Ian W.H. & Evans, David A. & Oates, Wallace E., 2010. "Are Energy Efficiency Standards Justified?," Discussion Papers dp-10-59, Resources For the Future.
  4. Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 1994. "The energy paradox and the diffusion of conservation technology," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 91-122, May.
  5. Arimura, Toshi H. & Li, Shanjun & Newell, Richard G. & Palmer, Karen, 2011. "Cost-Effectiveness of Electricity Energy Efficiency Programs," Discussion Papers dp-09-48-rev, Resources For the Future.
  6. Bento, Antonio M. & Li, Shanjun & Roth, Kevin, 2012. "Is there an energy paradox in fuel economy? A note on the role of consumer heterogeneity and sorting bias," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 44-48.
  7. David S. Loughran and Jonathan Kulick, 2004. "Demand-Side Management and Energy Efficiency in the United States," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 19-44.
  8. Jaffe, Adam B. & Stavins, Robert N., 1994. "The energy-efficiency gap What does it mean?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 804-810, October.
  9. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
  10. Sanstad, Alan H & Blumstein, Carl & Stoft, Steven E, 1995. "How high are option values in energy-efficiency investments?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(9), pages 739-743, September.
  11. Steven E. Stoft, 1995. "The Economics of Conserved-Energy "Supply" Curves," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 109-137.
  12. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2010. "Energy Conservation "Nudges" and Environmentalist Ideology: Evidence from a Randomized Residential Electricity Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
  14. Nicola Lacetera & Devin G. Pope & Justin R. Sydnor, 2011. "Heuristic Thinking and Limited Attention in the Car Market," NBER Working Papers 17030, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  16. Helfand, Gloria & Wolverton, Ann, 2011. "Evaluating the Consumer Response to Fuel Economy: A Review of the Literature," International Review of Environmental and Resource Economics, now publishers, vol. 5(2), pages 103-146, May.
  17. Duflo, Esther & Gale, William & Liebman, Jeff & Orszag, Peter & Saez, Emmanuel, 2005. "Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence from a Field Experiment with H&R Block," CEPR Discussion Papers 5332, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1994. "Economics and rational conservation policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 819-825, October.
  19. Hunt Allcott & Michael Greenstone, 2012. "Is There an Energy Efficiency Gap?," NBER Working Papers 17766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Tsvetanov, Tsvetan & Segerson, Kathleen, 2013. "Re-evaluating the role of energy efficiency standards: A behavioral economics approach," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 347-363.
  21. Huberman, Gur, 2001. "Familiarity Breeds Investment," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 14(3), pages 659-80.
  22. Newell, Richard & Anderson, Soren, 2002. "Information Programs for Technology Adoption: The Case of Energy-Efficiency Audits," Discussion Papers dp-02-58, Resources For the Future.
  23. Greene, David L, 1991. "Short-run Pricing Strategies to Increase Corporate Average Fuel Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 29(1), pages 101-14, January.
  24. Nic Rivers & Mark Jaccard, 2011. "Electric Utility Demand Side Management in Canada," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 93-116.
  25. Paul L. Joskow & Donald B. Marron, 1992. "What Does a Negawatt Really Cost? Evidence from Utility Conservation Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 41-74.
  26. Gilbert E. Metcalf & Kevin A. Hassett, 1999. "Measuring The Energy Savings From Home Improvement Investments: Evidence From Monthly Billing Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 516-528, August.
  27. Dumagan, Jesus C. & Mount, Timothy D., 1992. "Welfare Effects Of Improving End-Use Efficiency: Theory And Application To Residential Electricity Demand," Working Papers 128113, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  28. Hossain Tanjim & Morgan John, 2006. "...Plus Shipping and Handling: Revenue (Non) Equivalence in Field Experiments on eBay," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-30, January.
  29. Hausman, Jerry A & Joskow, Paul L, 1982. "Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Appliance Efficiency Standards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 220-25, May.
  30. Jason F. Shogren & Laura O. Taylor, 2008. "On Behavioral-Environmental Economics," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 2(1), pages 26-44, Winter.
  31. Greene, David L. & Patterson, Philip D. & Singh, Margaret & Li, Jia, 2005. "Feebates, rebates and gas-guzzler taxes: a study of incentives for increased fuel economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 757-775, April.
  32. Robert Sugden, 2005. "Coping with Preference Anomalies in Cost–Benefit Analysis: A Market-Simulation Approach," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 129-160, 09.
  33. Erin Baker, 2012. "Option Value and the Diffusion of Energy Efficient Products," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
  34. Grant D. Jacobsen & Matthew J. Kotchen, 2013. "Are Building Codes Effective at Saving Energy? Evidence from Residential Billing Data in Florida," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 34-49, March.
  35. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. 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.
  37. Maximilian Auffhammer & Carl Blumstein & Meredith Fowlie, 2008. "Demand-Side Management and Energy Efficiency Revisited," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 91-104.
  38. Mulder, Peter & de Groot, Henri L. F. & Hofkes, Marjan W., 2003. "Explaining slow diffusion of energy-saving technologies; a vintage model with returns to diversity and learning-by-using," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 105-126, February.
  39. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 2002. "How Much Is Investor Autonomy Worth?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 57(4), pages 1593-1616, 08.
  40. Ernst Fehr & Antonio Rangel, 2011. "Neuroeconomic Foundations of Economic Choice--Recent Advances," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 3-30, Fall.
  41. Ian Ayres & Sophie Raseman & Alice Shih, 2009. "Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage," NBER Working Papers 15386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  42. David Gal, 2006. "A psychological law of inertia and the illusion of loss aversion," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 1, pages 23-32, July.
  43. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1998. "The Effects of the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency Standards in the US," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(1), pages 1-33, March.
  44. Train, Kenneth, 1985. "Discount rates in consumers' energy-related decisions: A review of the literature," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 10(12), pages 1243-1253.
  45. Herbert A. Simon, 1955. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 99-118.
  46. W. Pesendorfer & F. Gul, 1999. "Temptation and Self-Control," Princeton Economic Theory Papers 99f1, Economics Department, Princeton University.
  47. Turrentine, Thomas S. & Kurani, Kenneth S., 2007. "Car buyers and fuel economy?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1213-1223, February.
  48. Lucas W. Davis, 2008. "Durable goods and residential demand for energy and water: evidence from a field trial," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 530-546.
  49. Jeffrey A. Dubin & Allen K. Miedema & Ram V. Chandran, 1986. "Price Effects of Energy-Efficient Technologies: A Study of Residential Demand for Heating and Cooling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(3), pages 310-325, Autumn.
  50. Kenneth Gillingham, Matthew Harding, and David Rapson, 2012. "Split Incentives in Residential Energy Consumption," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2).
  51. Johnson, Kenneth C., 2006. "Feebates: An effective regulatory instrument for cost-constrained environmental policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(18), pages 3965-3976, December.
  52. Austin, David & Dinan, Terry, 2005. "Clearing the air: The costs and consequences of higher CAFE standards and increased gasoline taxes," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 562-582, November.
  53. V. Smith & Eric Moore, 2010. "Behavioral Economics and Benefit Cost Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(2), pages 217-234, June.
  54. Frank J. Convery, 2011. "Reflections--Energy Efficiency Literature for Those in the Policy Process," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 5(1), pages 172-191, Winter.
  55. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1082-1095, October.
  56. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:renvpo:v:8:y:2014:i:1:p:18-38. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.