Resources for the Future, Inc.

To better understand the role of variable pricing, consumer incentives, and smart technologies in shifting energy demand

  • Amount $450,000
  • City Washington, DC
  • Investigator Karen Palmer
  • Year 2019
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Energy and Environment

Funds from this grant will allow researchers from Resources for the Future and the University of Chicago to study how consumers respond to time-varying electricity pricing schemes. One component of this project is undertaking a unique field experiment in collaboration with a smart thermostat company called Ecobee. This randomized controlled trial (RCT) will look at how 4,000 households use a new product feature available on Ecobee thermostats that gives households the ability to program their thermostat to automatically adjust air conditioning schedules to take advantage of different time-of-use electricity rates. The second research component is a methodological project that will attempt to use machine learning techniques to replicate a previously conducted RCT that examined consumer energy use under different electricity pricing schemes. If successful, the developed methods are likely to be applicable in generating more accurate counterfactual comparative groups in the many situations where conducting an RCT of energy consumers is not feasible. Findings from both components of the project will be disseminated through a final workshop that will engage stakeholders from multiple sectors in discussing the potential impacts of increased adoption of time-varying electricity pricing programs.

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