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Harnessing Policy Complementarities to Conserve Energy: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

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Listed:
  • John A. List
  • Robert D. Metcalfe
  • Michael K. Price
  • Florian Rundhammer

Abstract

The literature has shown the power of social norms to promote residential energy conservation, particularly among high usage users. This study uses a natural field experiment with nearly 200,000 US households to explore whether a financial rewards program can complement such approaches. We observe strong impacts of the program, particularly amongst low-usage and low-variance households, customers who typically are less responsive to normative messaging. Our data thus suggest important policy complementarities between behavioral and financial incentives: whereas non-pecuniary interventions disproportionately affect intense users, financial incentives are able to substantially affect the low-user, “sticky households.”

Suggested Citation

  • John A. List & Robert D. Metcalfe & Michael K. Price & Florian Rundhammer, 2017. "Harnessing Policy Complementarities to Conserve Energy: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23355, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23355
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    Cited by:

    1. Andor, Mark Andreas & Bernstein, David H. & Sommer, Stephan, 2020. "Determining the efficiency of residential electricity consumption," Ruhr Economic Papers 870, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Manuel Hoffmann & Roberto Mosquera & Adrian Chadi, 2019. "Vaccines at Work," TWI Research Paper Series 116, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    3. Céline Nauges & Dale Whittington, 2019. "Social Norms Information Treatments in the Municipal Water Supply Sector: Some New Insights on Benefits and Costs," Water Economics and Policy (WEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 5(03), pages 1-40, July.
    4. Matilde Giaccherini & David Herberich & David Jimenez-Gomez & John List & Giovanni Ponti & Michael Price, 2020. "Are Economics and Psychology Complements in Household Technology Diffusion? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00713, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Drews, Stefan & Exadaktylos, Filippos & van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2020. "Assessing synergy of incentives and nudges in the energy policy mix," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    6. Loureiro, Maria & Labandeira, Xavier, 2019. "Exploring Energy Use in Retail Stores: A Field Experiment," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(S1).

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    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy

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