As global temperatures rise, more people are exposed to heat-related risks. Coping with heat extremes is particularly challenging for people with lower socioeconomic status who cannot afford air conditioning. A recent study estimates that over 300 million people in India are at high risk of extreme heat due to a lack of access to cooling (SE4ALL, 2022). Warmer temperatures are also straining India’s aging power system; electricity demand surges during hot weather events have triggered cascading outages across the country in recent years.
Delivery of sustainable and accessible cooling solutions in India will require innovation and intervention. Fans are the most common cooling appliance used by low-income households in India. Energy-efficient fans, which consume less than half the energy of standard induction fans, are rarely available in rural and peri-urban areas of India where a majority of low-income households live. Demand for energy-efficient appliances in these markets is perceived to be low, and the costs of building out distribution networks, marketing, and sales teams to support new product offerings are high.
We investigate the conditions under which rural households in India are willing and able to purchase energy-efficient BLDC fans. Working closely with India’s Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) and a network of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in Bihar, we combine a randomized control trial with a supply-side intervention that provides training for local shop owners in procurement, distribution, marketing, and sales support for energy-efficient fans. Fan purchase prices are randomized across customers and local warranty support is randomized across clusters of local shops.
The aims of this study are threefold (1) to determine the level of consumer demand for energy-efficient fans at different price points; (2) to determine whether demand at a given price point increases with investments in local supply chain/warranty support and (3) to assess the potential role of a well-established SHG network in accelerating the diffusion of energy-efficient fans to under-served, low-income market segments.