IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/20720.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels

Author

Listed:
  • Lucas W. Davis
  • Gilbert E. Metcalf

Abstract

Information provision is a key element of government energy-efficiency policy, but the information that is provided is often too coarse to allow consumers to make efficient decisions. An important example is the ubiquitous yellow “EnergyGuide” label, which is required by law to be displayed on all major appliances sold in the United States. These labels report energy cost information based on average national usage and energy prices. We conduct an online randomized controlled trial to measure the potential benefits from providing more accurate information. We find that state-specific labels lead to significantly better choices. Consumers invest about the same amount overall in energy-efficiency, but the allocation is much better with more investment in high-usage high-price states and less investment in low-usage low-price states. The implied aggregate cost savings are larger than any reasonable estimate of the cost of implementing state-specific labels.

Suggested Citation

  • Lucas W. Davis & Gilbert E. Metcalf, 2014. "Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels," NBER Working Papers 20720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20720
    Note: EEE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20720.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. repec:mpr:mprres:7375 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Kenneth Gillingham & Karen Palmer, 2014. "Bridging the Energy Efficiency Gap: Policy Insights from Economic Theory and Empirical Evidence," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 8(1), pages 18-38, January.
    3. Dubin, Jeffrey A & McFadden, Daniel L, 1984. "An Econometric Analysis of Residential Electric Appliance Holdings and Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 345-362, March.
    4. Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2015. "Evaluating Behaviorally Motivated Policy: Experimental Evidence from the Lightbulb Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2501-2538, August.
    5. Meghan R. Busse & Christopher R. Knittel & Florian Zettelmeyer, 2013. "Are Consumers Myopic? Evidence from New and Used Car Purchases," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 220-256, February.
    6. Hunt Allcott, 2011. "Consumers' Perceptions and Misperceptions of Energy Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 98-104, May.
    7. Kenneth Gillingham & Richard G. Newell & Karen Palmer, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Annual Review of Resource Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 597-620, September.
    8. 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.
    9. Hunt Allcott & Richard Sweeney, 2014. "The Role of Sales Agents in Information Disclosure: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 20048, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Lee C. Vermeulen & Marian V. Wrobel, 2012. "Comparison Friction: Experimental Evidence from Medicare Drug Plans," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 199-235.
    11. Heutel, Garth, 2010. "Optimal Policy Instruments for Externality-Producing Durable Goods under Time Inconsistency," UNCG Economics Working Papers 10-5, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
    12. James M. Sallee, 2014. "Rational Inattention and Energy Efficiency," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(3), pages 781-820.
    13. Kahn, Matthew E., 2007. "Do greens drive Hummers or hybrids? Environmental ideology as a determinant of consumer choice," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 129-145, September.
    14. Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2013. "The Lightbulb Paradox: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments," NBER Working Papers 19713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1082-1095, October.
    16. Justine S. Hastings & Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2008. "Information, School Choice, and Academic Achievement: Evidence from Two Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1373-1414.
    17. Richard G. Newell & Juha Siikamäki, 2014. "Nudging Energy Efficiency Behavior: The Role of Information Labels," Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(4), pages 555-598.
    18. Graff Zivin, Joshua S. & Kotchen, Matthew J. & Mansur, Erin T., 2014. "Spatial and temporal heterogeneity of marginal emissions: Implications for electric cars and other electricity-shifting policies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 248-268.
    19. Marianne Bertrand & Adair Morse, 2011. "Information Disclosure, Cognitive Biases, and Payday Borrowing," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 66(6), pages 1865-1893, December.
    20. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1994. "Economics and rational conservation policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 819-825, October.
    21. 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.
    22. David Revelt & Kenneth Train, 1998. "Mixed Logit With Repeated Choices: Households' Choices Of Appliance Efficiency Level," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 647-657, November.
    23. Hunt Allcott, 2013. "The Welfare Effects of Misperceived Product Costs: Data and Calibrations from the Automobile Market," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 30-66, August.
    24. Hunt Allcott & Todd Rogers, 2014. "The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3003-3037, October.
    25. 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.
    26. Jerry Hausman, 2012. "Contingent Valuation: From Dubious to Hopeless," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 43-56, Fall.
    27. Allcott, Hunt, 2011. "Social norms and energy conservation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1082-1095.
    28. Jacobsen, Grant D., 2015. "Do energy prices influence investment in energy efficiency? Evidence from energy star appliances," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 94-106.
    29. Kahn Matthew E & Vaughn Ryan K., 2009. "Green Market Geography: The Spatial Clustering of Hybrid Vehicles and LEED Registered Buildings," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 9(2), pages 1-24, March.
    30. Brounen, Dirk & Kok, Nils, 2011. "On the economics of energy labels in the housing market," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 166-179, September.
    31. Hunt Allcott & Nathan Wozny, 2014. "Gasoline Prices, Fuel Economy, and the Energy Paradox," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 779-795, December.
    32. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Hunt Allcott & Christopher Knittel, 2017. "Are Consumers Poorly Informed about Fuel Economy? Evidence from Two Experiments," NBER Working Papers 23076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Asensio, Omar Isaac & Delmas, Magali A., 2016. "The dynamics of behavior change: Evidence from energy conservation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 196-212.
    3. Ramos, A. & Gago, A. & Labandeira, X. & Linares, P., 2015. "The role of information for energy efficiency in the residential sector," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(S1), pages 17-29.
    4. Louis-Gaëtan Giraudet, 2018. "Energy efficiency as a credence good: A review of informational barriers to building energy savings," Policy Papers 2018.04, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    5. repec:eee:ecolec:v:144:y:2018:i:c:p:112-123 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Louis-Gaëtan Giraudet, 2018. "Energy efficiency as a credence good: A review of informational barriers to building energy savings," Working Papers 2018.07, FAERE - French Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
    7. Cristina Cattaneo, 2018. "Internal and External Barriers to Energy Efficiency: Made-to-Measure Policy Interventions," Working Papers 2018.08, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Zhang, Li & Sun, Cong & Liu, Hongyu & Zheng, Siqi, 2016. "The role of public information in increasing homebuyers' willingness-to-pay for green housing: Evidence from Beijing," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 40-49.
    9. repec:eco:journ2:2017-06-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Jacobsen, Grant D., 2015. "Do energy prices influence investment in energy efficiency? Evidence from energy star appliances," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 94-106.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • H49 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Other
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20720. 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: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.