Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels

Last registered on November 23, 2014

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000560
Initial registration date
November 23, 2014
Last updated
November 23, 2014, 11:48 AM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Tufts University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of California Berkeley

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2014-07-16
End date
2014-08-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Information provision is a key element of government energy-efficiency policy, but the information that is provided is often too coarse to allow consumers to make efficient decisions. An important example is the ubiquitous yellow “EnergyGuide” label, which is required by law to be displayed on all major appliances sold in the United States. These labels report energy cost information based on average national usage and energy prices. We conduct an online randomized controlled trial to measure the potential benefits from providing more accurate information. We find that state-specific labels lead to significantly better choices. Consumers invest about the same amount overall in energy-efficiency, but the allocation is much better with more investment in high-usage high-price states and less investment in low-usage low-price states. The implied aggregate cost savings are larger than any reasonable estimate of the cost of implementing state-specific labels.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
, and Gilbert Metcalf. 2014. "Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels." AEA RCT Registry. November 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.560-1.0
Former Citation
, , Gilbert Metcalf and Gilbert Metcalf. 2014. "Does Better Information Lead to Better Choices? Evidence from Energy-Efficiency Labels." AEA RCT Registry. November 23. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/560/history/3145
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Survey participants in the TESS GfK Knowledge Panel were shown current versions of appliance EnergyGuide labels (control) or new versions (treatment). The new versions differed in showing state-specific energy cost data for the appliance while the control group labels show energy costs based on national averages. Survey participants then made hypothetical selections among three different air conditioners trading off purchase and operating cost. All participants were then asked questions about their understanding of energy prices and usage.
Intervention Start Date
2014-07-16
Intervention End Date
2014-08-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Key outcome variables are the choices made by survey participants in hypothetical air conditioner selections (from among three options).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Random assignment of survey participants to control and treatment groups with equal probability assignment to either group.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done by GfK
Randomization Unit
survey participant
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
no clustering
Sample size: planned number of observations
3744
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
half control, half treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Tufts University/University of California Berkeley
IRB Approval Date
2013-11-18
IRB Approval Number
1311043

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials