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Free Riding, Upsizing, and Energy Efficiency Incentives in Maryland Homes

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  • Alberini, Anna
  • Gans, Will
  • Towe, Charles

Abstract

We use a unique dataset that combines the responses from an original survey of households, information about the structural characteristics of their homes, utility-provided longitudinal electricity usage records, plus utility program participation information, to study the uptake of energy efficiency incentives and their effect on residential electricity consumption. Attention is restricted to homes where heating and cooling are provided exclusively by heat pumps, which are common in our study area—four counties in Maryland—and were covered by federal, state and utility incentives during our study period (2007-2012). We deploy a difference-in-difference study design. We find that replacing an existing heat pump with a new one does reduce electricity usage: the average treatment effect is an 8% reduction. However, the effect differs dramatically across households based upon whether they receive an incentive towards the purchase of a new heat pump. Among those that receive the purchase incentive, the effect is small or nil, and indeed, the larger the incentive, the smaller the reduction in electricity usage. Those that do not receive incentives reduce usage by about 16%. Our results appear to be driven by the numerous free riders in our sample and by persons who—inferred from their responses to survey questions—might be exploiting the subsidy to purchase a larger system and increase usage, with no emissions reductions benefits to society.

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  • Alberini, Anna & Gans, Will & Towe, Charles, "undated". "Free Riding, Upsizing, and Energy Efficiency Incentives in Maryland Homes," Energy: Resources and Markets 158739, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:feemer:158739
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.158739
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    2. Wichman, Casey J. & Taylor, Laura O. & von Haefen, Roger H., 2016. "Conservation policies: Who responds to price and who responds to prescription?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 114-134.
    3. Alberini, Anna & Ščasný, Milan & Bigano, Andrea, 2018. "Policy- v. individual heterogeneity in the benefits of climate change mitigation: Evidence from a stated-preference survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 565-575.
    4. Salomé Bakaloglou and Dorothée Charlier, 2019. "Energy Consumption in the French Residential Sector: How Much do Individual Preferences Matter?," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3).
    5. Hammerle, Mara & Burke, Paul J., 2022. "From natural gas to electric appliances: Energy use and emissions implications in Australian homes," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C).
    6. Sylwia Słupik & Joanna Kos-Łabędowicz & Joanna Trzęsiok, 2021. "How to Encourage Energy Savings Behaviours? The Most Effective Incentives from the Perspective of European Consumers," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(23), pages 1-25, November.
    7. Carroll, P. & Chesser, M. & Lyons, P., 2020. "Air Source Heat Pumps field studies: A systematic literature review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    8. Giraudet, Louis-Gaëtan, 2020. "Energy efficiency as a credence good: A review of informational barriers to energy savings in the building sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    9. Fajardy, M. & Reiner, D M., 2020. "An overview of the electrification of residential and commercial heating and cooling and prospects for decarbonisation," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 20120, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. Fontecha, John E. & Nikolaev, Alexander & Walteros, Jose L. & Zhu, Zhenduo, 2022. "Scientists wanted? A literature review on incentive programs that promote pro-environmental consumer behavior: Energy, waste, and water," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 82(PA).
    11. Coyne, Bryan & Denny, Eleanor, 2021. "Retrofit effectiveness: Evidence from a nationwide residential energy efficiency programme," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 159(C).
    12. Miriam Berretta & Joshua Furgeson & Yue (Nicole) Wu & Collins Zamawe & Ian Hamilton & John Eyers, 2021. "Residential energy efficiency interventions: A meta‐analysis of effectiveness studies," Campbell Systematic Reviews, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 17(4), December.
    13. Liddle, Brantley & Loi, Tian Sheng Allan & Owen, Anthony D. & Tao, Jacqueline, 2020. "Evaluating consumption and cost savings from new air-conditioner purchases: The case of Singapore," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    14. Galina Besstremyannaya & Sergei Golovan, 2019. "Reconsideration of a simple approach to quantile regression for panel data: a comment on the Canay (2011) fixed effects estimator," Working Papers w0249, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    15. Spandagos, Constantine & Baark, Erik & Ng, Tze Ling & Yarime, Masaru, 2021. "Social influence and economic intervention policies to save energy at home: Critical questions for the new decade and evidence from air-condition use," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    16. Galina Besstremyannaya & Sergei Golovan, 2019. "Reconsideration of a simple approach to quantile regression for panel data: a comment on the Canay (2011) fixed effects estimator," Working Papers w0249, New Economic School (NES).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Resource /Energy Economics and Policy;

    JEL classification:

    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents

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