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Smart Meter Devices and The Effect of Feedback on Residential Electricity Consumption: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Northern Ireland

  • Will Gans

    (AREC, University of Maryland)

  • Anna Alberini

    (AREC, University of Maryland and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei)

  • Alberto Longo

    (Gibson Institute for Land Food and Environment, UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), School of Biological Sciences, Queen‘s University)

Using a unique set of data and exploiting a large-scale natural experiment, we estimate the effect of real-time usage information on residential electricity consumption in Northern Ireland. Starting in April 2002, the utility replaced prepayment meters with “smart” meters that allow the consumer to track usage in real-time. We rely on this event, account for the endogeneity of price and plan with consumption through a plan selection correction term, and find that the provision of information is associated with a decline in electricity consumption of up to 20%. We find that the reduction is robust to different specifications, selection-bias correction methods and subsamples of the original data. At £15-17 per tonne of CO2e (2009£), the smart meter program delivers cost-effective reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2011.36.

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Date of creation: May 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2011.36
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  1. Gordon B. Dahl, 2002. "Mobility and the Return to Education: Testing a Roy Model with Multiple Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(6), pages 2367-2420, November.
  2. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
  3. O'Doherty, Joe & Lyons, Sean & Tol, Richard S.J., 2008. "Energy-using appliances and energy-saving features: Determinants of ownership in Ireland," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 85(7), pages 650-662, July.
  4. Isamu Matsukawa, 2005. "The Benefits of Information on the Efficient Usage of Consumer Durables," Others 0501005, EconWPA.
  5. Dulleck, Uwe & Kaufmann, Sylvia, 2004. "Do customer information programs reduce household electricity demand?--the Irish program," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(8), pages 1025-1032, June.
  6. Joe O'Doherty & Seán Lyons & Richard S. J. Tol, 2007. "Energy-Using Appliances and Energy-Saving Features: Determinants of Ownership in Ireland," Papers WP219, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
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