Energy

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The discounting gap interpreted as evidence of an Energy Efficiency Gap – a critical literature review

Summary

A large body of literature suggests that due to lower current electricity costs, many household investments in energy efficiency – e.g. purchasing energy-efficient refrigerators – would result in net monetary savings despite higher purchase prices. However, despite their economic profitability, many of these investment opportunities remain unexploited, leading to the discussion of a possible “energy efficiency gap”: In their purchases of energy-using durables, households seem to readily leave money on the table – supposedly revealing irrational behavior. In this research the literature on the existence of an energy efficiency gap is reviewed. Furthermore, causes for the gap are assessed. We ask wether the empirical evidence might be insufficient, or misleading.

Publications and working papers

Schubert, R. and Stadelmann, M. (2015): Energy-using durables – why consumers refrain from economically optimal choices. Frontiers in Energy Research 3:7. doi: 10.3389/fenrg.2015.00007

Participating researchers

Is there an energy efficiency gap in households’ purchases of white goods in Switzerland?

Summary

Using data of white goods (e.g. refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, etc.) for sale on the Swiss market, this project assesses the existence of an energy efficiency gap in the purchase decision of private households for these product types. For this purpose, we identify “twin” products, i.e. two or more products offered by the same supplier that share identical characteristics except for their energy efficiency and their purchase price. Comparing total costs, i.e. acquisition costs plus discounted energy costs over the product’s lifetime, of twin products delivers a clear, unbiased indication whether the more energy-efficient product is cheaper in the long-run – and thus whether an energy efficiency gap is present. For purchase prices we use list prices by manufacturers as well as actual retail prices from online retailers. In the calculation of discounted energy costs, we analyze several scenarios with different energy costs and discount rates in order to provide overview for which circumstances an energy efficiency gap might exist.

Publications and working papers

work in progress

Participating researchers

The influence of monetary information on an energy label on private purchase decisions of household appliances: A field experiment

Summary

In cooperation with a large online retailer in Switzerland, the project assesses the effect of energy labels on private purchase decision of different household appliances in a field experiment. We include televisions, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, freezers and tumble dryers in this study – all product types for which an energy label is mandatory on the physical product in stores in Switzerland. The type of label used in Switzerland is the “EU Energy Label”, a comparative, categorical label. Since the energy label is currently not presented online, the first effect we assess is a pure label-effect from adding the EU Energy Label to the product information of the online store. In a second step, we replace the EU Energy Label with a self-creation of an energy label, a comparative, continuous label that emphasizes monetary information. Annual energy cost as well as lifetime energy cost are compared to similar products. Comparing purchase activities between the two different energy labels presented, we investigate whether a label with monetary information will increase the energy efficiency of products sold.

Publications and working papers

Energy labels for household appliances and their disclosure format: A literature review (PDF, 2.8 MB)

Participating researchers

"Green by Default - Welfare Effects of Green Default Electricity Contracts"

Summary

This project will assess the effects of green electricity defaults in three interrelated projects with a focus on Swiss residential electricity markets. A green default implies that, in a first step, an individual is automatically assigned to an electricity contract that promotes renewable electricity production, i.e. electricity produced by wind, solar or hydropower. If an individual wants to select another contract, she can then, in a second step, actively opt out. Such contracts are attractive for public policy because they support the societal goal of reaching higher adoption rates of renewable electricity tariffs, which may lead to a less emission-intensive electricity production. However, although more and more Swiss utilities offer green default contracts to their customers, the consequences of green electricity defaults are not clear. Three core questions are addressed: (1) Do individuals behave according to their preferences when confronted with a green default? (2) What are the distributional effects of green defaults in terms of private costs and benefits for individuals or groups of individuals? (3) Which environmental effects come into consideration related to green defaults? The main aim in analyzing these three questions is to assess the overall benefits and costs of green electricity defaults. Based on the respective results, recommendations in behavior-related environmental policymaking can be developed.

Publications and working papers

work in progress

Participating researchers

Distributional effects of price-based energy policies: evidence from household data.

Summary

This project seeks to estimate household demand responses to price changes in consumer goods while accounting for heterogeneity of income levels and demographic variables. Access to micro data from yearly household budget surveys (Laufende Wirtschaftsrechnungen -- LWR) of the German federal statistical office has been granted for the first time for academic research. The project aims to implement a flexible system of Engel curves and consumer goods expenditures  which allows determining distributive effects of energy policies such as feed-in tariff schemes or energy taxes.

Publications and working papers

work in progress

Participating researchers

Making Energy Demand More Sustainable and Resilient

Summary

This project aims at:

  • In-depth understanding of the factors that are shaping energy-efficient decision-making behavior of Swiss and Singaporean electric appliances buyers from surveys (and experiments)
  • In-depth insights from surveys and experiments into the factors that are shaping energy-saving behaviors in households and company environments, particularly the effects of:
    • Mental budgeting
    • Price structure
    • Feedback mechanisms
    • Social interaction
    • Research produced within this project is expected to be used for policy design and for improving agency practices

The project started in late spring 2015 and is part of the cluster “Future Resilient Systems” (FRS) which makes part of the “Singapore-ETH Center” (SEC). The majority of research team members is located in Singapore (CREATE Center).

website: www.frs.ethz.ch

Publications and Working Papers

work in progress

Participating Principal Researchers in Singapore

Participating Principal Researchers in Singapore

ETH Researchers in Singapore

Employer-led CO2 and Energy Reductions by Employees

Summary

Off4Firms provides a broad and ample portfolio of possible CO2 and energy reduction measures along with a tool kit for selecting from this portfolio the “optimal” measures with respect to the characteristics of the corresponding company and their particular employee base.

A systematic performance evaluation of CO2 and energy saving measures provides the customer with qualitative and quantitative information on the achieved environmental performance. The results of this evaluation and monitoring are provided in a user-friendly way, so that it can easily be included in the company’s reporting streams (CSR performance, CSR report, integrated report, public / stakeholder relations).

We aim at long-term partnerships with our customers, continuingly offering them new and innovative technologies and measures suitable for employee engagement. Our close affiliation with the panEuropean Knowledge and Innovation Community Climate‑KIC, which supports entrepreneurs and start‑ups in field of climate innovation, guarantees access to the most recent and attractive solution.

Please visit off4firms.com for more information on the Off4Firms project.

 
 
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Thu Jun 29 02:18:26 CEST 2017
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