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Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy


  • Gillingham, Kenneth
  • Newell, Richard G.
  • Palmer, Karen

    () (Resources for the Future)


Energy efficiency and conservation are considered key means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving other energy policy goals, but associated market behavior and policy responses have engendered debates in the economic literature. We review economic concepts underlying consumer decisionmaking in energy efficiency and conservation and examine related empirical literature. In particular, we provide an economic perspective on the range of market barriers, market failures, and behavioral failures that have been cited in the energy efficiency context. We assess the extent to which these conditions provide a motivation for policy intervention in energy-using product markets, including an examination of the evidence on policy effectiveness and cost. While theory and empirical evidence suggest there is potential for welfare-enhancing energy efficiency policies, many open questions remain, particularly relating to the extent of some of the key market and behavioral failures.

Suggested Citation

  • Gillingham, Kenneth & Newell, Richard G. & Palmer, Karen, 2009. "Energy Efficiency Economics and Policy," Discussion Papers dp-09-13, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-09-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anderson, Soren T. & Newell, Richard G., 2004. "Information programs for technology adoption: the case of energy-efficiency audits," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 27-50, March.
    2. Stephen J. Decanio & William E. Watkins, 1998. "Investment In Energy Efficiency: Do The Characteristics Of Firms Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 95-107, February.
    3. Sutherland, Ronald J, 1996. "The economics of energy conservation policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 361-370, April.
    4. Fischer, Carolyn, 2005. "On the importance of the supply side in demand-side management," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 165-180, January.
    5. Metcalf, Gilbert E., 1994. "Economics and rational conservation policy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(10), pages 819-825, October.
    6. Sue Wing, Ian, 2008. "Explaining the declining energy intensity of the U.S. economy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 21-49, January.
    7. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
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    More about this item


    energy efficiency; appliance standards; energy policy; market failures; behavioral failures;

    JEL classification:

    • Q38 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Government Policy (includes OPEC Policy)
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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