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Characteristics or culture? Determinants of household energy use behavior in Germany and the USA

: Long, Christopher; Mills, Bradford F.; Schleich, Joachim


Energy efficiency 11 (2018), No.3, pp.777-798
ISSN: 1570-646X
ISSN: 1570-6478
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
energy use; household behavior; Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition; United States

Multilateral climate agreements are more likely to be successful when they acknowledge and address both differences in country energy use behavior and the factors that shape behavior. This paper employs an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition to analyze factors underlying differences in residential energy use behavior in Germany and the USA. We focus on three household decisions: purchasing energy-efficient appliances, employing energy-saving measures like turning off lights when leaving a room, and purchasing fuel-efficient vehicles. For all of these decisions, US household adoption is significantly lower than German household adoption. These differences in observed energy use behavior are decomposed into components arising from differences in country mean characteristic and from differences in adoption propensities for given characteristics. Both country characteristics and propensities contribute to observed energy use behavior differences in German and US households. In particular, perceptions of the human role in climate change, financial advantages of energy savings, and effectiveness of energy savings in combating climate change play significant roles in generating observed country difference.