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How large is the Owner-Renter Divide in Energy Efficient Technology? Evidence from an OECD cross-section

When the agent making an investment decision is different from the one bearing the costs of the decision, the outcome (energy usage, here) is socially sub-optimal, a scenario known in the energy efficient technology case as "split incentive" effect. Using a sample of households (from a survey conducted in 2011) from 11 OECD countries, this paper investigates the magnitude of the "split incentive" effect between home occupants who are owners and those who are renters. A wide variety of energy-related "technologies" are considered: appliances, energy efficient bulbs, insulation, heat thermostat, solar panels, ground source heat pumps and wind turbines. Mean difference in patterns of access to these technologies are consistent with the "split incentives" hypothesis. Regression results suggest that, even after controlling for the sizeable differences in observed characteristics, owners are substantially more likely to have access to energy efficient appliances and to better insulation as well as to heat thermostats. For relatively immobile investments such as wind turbines and ground source heat pumps, we find no differences between owners and renters.

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JEL Codes: Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q42: Alternative Energy Sources, Q21: Renewable Resources and Conservation: Demand and Supply; Prices, Q28: Renewable Resources and Conservation: Government Policy, Q55: Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation, Q54: Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming, D12: Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

Keywords: Principal-Agent Problem, Split Incentives, Energy Efficiency

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.36.4.ckri

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Published in Volume 36, Number 4 of the bi-monthly journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.


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