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Even for the environment, context matters! States, households, and residential energy consumption

Adua, Lazarus and Brett Clark. (2019). “Even for the Environment, Context Matters! States, Households, and Residential Energy Consumption.” Environmental Research Letters 14: 064008.

This study adopts a multi-level approach to examine the extent to which state- and household-level factors shape residential energy consumption in the United States, focusing on efficiency improvement and affluence. Analyzing the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, state-level energy efficiency data from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and other sources, we find that state context significantly influences energy consumption at the household level. Households in states scoring high on energy efficiency consume significantly less residential energy than those in states scoring low on the measure. At the household level, the analysis reveals mixed relationships between investment in energy efficiency technologies and residential energy consumption, as some measures of efficiency technology are negatively related to residential energy consumption, others are positively related to it. In regard to affluence, state-level measures do not emerge as significant predictors of residential energy consumption. At the household level, however, affluence drives residential energy consumption, which, in turn, is a significant driver of carbon dioxide emissions. Our study makes an important contribution to the social scientific literature on energy consumption, illuminating distinct relationships at different levels. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that simultaneously examines the impacts of factors measured at both the household (micro) and state (meso) levels.

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Last Updated: 4/14/21