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E2e Project asks: Are energy efficiency regulations realizing their potential?

June 18, 2013 - Energy efficiency promises to cut emissions, reduce dependence on foreign fuel and mitigate climate change; as such, governments around the world are spending billions of dollars to support energy efficiency regulations, technologies and policies. But are these programs realizing their potential?


June 19, 2013
By Anthony Capkun

Researchers from the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business are collaborating to find out. The researchers’ energy efficiency research project, E2e, is an interdisciplinary effort that aims to evaluate and improve energy efficiency policies and technologies. Its goal is to “support and conduct rigorous and objective research, communicate the results and give decision-makers the real-world analysis they need to make smart choices”.

This collaboration, the researchers say, uniquely positions the E2e Project to leverage cutting-edge scientific and economic insights on energy efficiency.

“When deciding on the best energy measures to implement, decision-makers should compare model predictions to actual consumer behaviours. That’s where this project comes in,” said Catherine Wolfram, associate professor and co-director of the Energy Institute at Haas. “The E2e Project is focused on singling out the best products and approaches by using real experiments centred on real buying habits. It will provide valuable guidance to government and industry leaders, as well as consumers.”

The E2e Project seeks to answer questions such as: Are consumers and businesses bypassing profitable opportunities to reduce their energy consumption? What are the most effective ways to encourage individuals and businesses to invest in energy efficiency? Are current energy efficiency programs providing the most savings?

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The project’s first experiments are already underway. For example, the team is tracking consumers’ vehicle purchasing decisions to discover whether better information about a car’s fuel economy will influence consumers to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. If so, emphasizing the calculated fuel savings in the vehicle information presented to consumers may be productive.

Other initial projects include evaluating the Federal Weatherization Assistance Program, and determining why households invest in energy efficiency and the returns to those investments.