Davis, Lucas “Evaluating the Slow Adoption of Energy Efficient Investments: Are Renters Less Likely to Have Energy Efficient Appliances?” (June 2010) (Revised version published in The Design and Implementation of U.S. Climate Policy, edited by Don Fullerton and Catherine Wolfram, University of Chicago Press. 2012) | WP-205 | Blog Post
While public discussion of HR 2454 (the “Waxman Markey” bill) has focused on the cap-and-trade program that would be established for carbon emissions, the bill also includes provisions that would tighten energy efficiency standards for consumer appliances. Supporters argue that appliance standards help address a number of market failures. In particular, many studies have pointed out that landlords may buy cheap inefficient appliances when their tenants pay the utility bill. Although this landlord-tenant problem has been widely discussed in the literature, there is little empirical evidence on the magnitude of the distortion. This paper compares appliance ownership patterns between homeowners and renters using household-level data from the Residential Energy Consumption Survey. The results show that, controlling for household income and other household characteristics, renters are significantly less likely to have energy efficient refrigerators, clothes washers and dishwashers.