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Energy Efficiency Information: The Role of Information Programs in Closing the Energy Efficiency Gap

Improvements in energy efficiency often appear to pay for themselves in energy cost savings. However, people frequently fail to make such improvements—a phenomenon known as the “energy efficiency gap.” RFF researchers are exploring the role of information in explaining and overcoming the energy efficiency gap. Specifically, they are looking at energy labels, voluntary certifications, energy audits, and disclosure and benchmarking of buildings’ energy use to see whether and how information provision can lead to efficiency improvements.

Below are highlights of recent research at RFF.

  • Analyzing the Energy Efficiency Gap. In this discussion paper, which was also published in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, RFF’s Karen L. Palmer and Kenneth Gillingham of Yale University review explanations for the apparent energy efficiency gap, including reasons why the size of the gap may be overstated, economic explanations for such a gap, and recent evidence from behavioral economics on why an efficiency gap could exist.


  • Click to see larger image 
    Source: and RFF research.
  • Evaluating Energy Labeling Programs. RFF's Juha Siikamäki and RFF board member Richard Newell of Duke University evaluated the effectiveness of energy efficiency labeling in guiding decisions on household appliances in this discussion paper. They found that labels could have a substantial impact in such decisionmaking. This research was also published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.
  • Assessing Green and Energy Certifications. RFF's Margaret A. Walls, Karen L. Palmer, and Todd Gerarden assess the impact of Energy Star and local “green” certifications on home sales prices in new research, finding that the local certifications appear to have larger effects on sales prices than Energy Star. See an overview of the research.

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