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Putting Information into Action: What Explains Follow-up on Home Energy Audits?

Listed author(s):
  • Palmer, Karen


    (Resources for the Future)

  • Walls, Margaret


    (Resources for the Future)

  • O'Keeffe, Lucy


    (Resources for the Future)

Registered author(s):

    Consumers often invest in information when faced with choices that have uncertain payoffs. Homeowners considering improvements or retrofits in order to lower their energy bills may decide to have a home energy audit, a professional assessment that identifies where a home is losing energy and recommends improvements that will lower energy use and costs. Follow-up on audit recommendations varies widely across households. We explore the reasons for these differences using data from a multistate survey of over 500 homeowners who have had energy audits. Our findings suggest that two sets of factors are important in explaining audit follow-up: factors related to the costs of retrofits and those related to the features and quality of the audits. Our findings have implications for policies to encourage the use of audits and suggest that the quality of the information and how it is delivered have important consequences for the role of audits in reducing energy consumption.

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    Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-15-34.

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    Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-15-34
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    1. Matthew Rabin & Ted O'Donoghue, 1999. "Doing It Now or Later," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 103-124, March.
    2. Meredith Fowlie & Michael Greenstone & Catherine Wolfram, 2015. "Are the Non-monetary Costs of Energy Efficiency Investments Large? Understanding Low Take-Up of a Free Energy Efficiency Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 201-204, May.
    3. 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.
    4. Murphy, Lorraine, 2014. "The influence of energy audits on the energy efficiency investments of private owner-occupied households in the Netherlands," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 398-407.
    5. Hunt Allcott & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2013. "The Lightbulb Paradox: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments," NBER Working Papers 19713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Karen Palmer & Margaret Walls, 2015. "Limited Attention and the Residential Energy Efficiency Gap," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 192-195, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Joshua Graff Zivin and Kevin Novan, 2016. "Upgrading Efficiency and Behavior: Electricity Savings from Residential Weatherization Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    9. Manuel Frondel & Colin Vance, 2013. "Heterogeneity in the Effect of Home Energy Audits: Theory and Evidence," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(3), pages 407-418, July.
    10. Hirshleifer, J & Riley, John G, 1979. "The Analytics of Uncertainty and Information-An Expository Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 1375-1421, December.
    11. David Dranove & Ginger Zhe Jin, 2010. "Quality Disclosure and Certification: Theory and Practice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(4), pages 935-963, December.
    12. Todd Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins, 2015. "Deconstructing the Energy-Efficiency Gap: Conceptual Frameworks and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 183-186, May.
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