Clean Air Task Force

To organize the formulation of a study group, a research framework, and a request-for-proposals to investigate the energy efficiency paradox

  • Amount $248,832
  • City Boston, MA
  • Investigator Steven Brick
  • Year 2011
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Economic Institutions, Behavior, & Performance

Economists have been talking about the "Energy Efficiency Paradox" for nearly twenty years. The puzzle is why so few people take simple steps-such as replacing inefficient light bulbs or fixing home insulation-that engineers and other experts assure us would save energy, save money, and perhaps even help save the planet. Funds from this grant will support a project by Stephen Brick, Armond Cohen, and Joseph Chaisson of the Clean Air Task Force to start a process for studying the Energy Efficiency Paradox systematically, comprehensively, theoretically, empirically, and impartially. Their first step will be to survey what is known, unknown, and unknowable about the energy efficiency paradox. This will be accomplished in cooperation with a group of experts they will convene, including not just economists but also other social scientists, policymakers, marketers, and industry experts. Based on the survey findings, the main task for that group will be to develop and publish an overall conceptual framework for organizing research on energy efficiency. The focus will be on end-user efficiency decisions concerning residential and commercial buildings and will include considerations about costs and benefits, engineering and behavior, trends and uncertainties, finance and discounting, technology and regulation, etc. The expert group's output will also include a draft "Request for Proposals." This document, when circulated together with the framing paper, would ask appropriate research institutions to formulate plans and projects that the Sloan Foundation and others might consider for future funding to help resolve the fundamental questions this project will identify about energy efficiency and its supposed paradoxes.

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