August 23, 2012
By David Austin
A large share of total U.S. energy consumption—40 percent—occurs in homes and buildings. Homes and buildings are less energy efficient than they would be if people could assess the value of energy savings more easily and correctly, and if energy prices provided them with stronger incentives to do so. This paper identifies three reasons why people undervalue energy savings: misperceived energy prices, imperfect information about energy efficiency, and biased reasoning about energy savings. The paper then examines four types of policy options for addressing those underlying market imperfections: prices that reflect the social costs of energy use, financial incentives, energy-efficiency standards, and better information about energy efficiency.