Episode 167: How can we encourage renters and landlords to use less electricity?

for rent sign

Casey Canfield, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University’s Engineering and Public Policy Department, discusses how we can encourage renters and landlords to use less electricity and how we can fix split incentives.

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Learn More

Energy Use By Apartment Tenants When Landlords Pay For Utilities by Arik Levinson and Scott Niemann

Top 10 Tips for Renters! from ENERGY STAR

Split Incentives in Residential Energy Consumption from Kenneth Gillingham, Matthew Harding and David Rapson

Transcript

HOST: How can we encourage renters and landlords to use less electricity? On this week’s Energy Bite, Casey Canfield, a recent PhD graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

CASEY: The relationship between renters and landlords can make it challenging to encourage actions to reduce energy consumption. If the landlord pays the electricity bill, the renter has little incentive to use less electricity, so, for example, they might be less likely to adjust the temperature at night. The reverse also happens if the renter is paying the electricity bill, because the landlord has little incentive to improve the efficiency of the building by installing insulation or buying energy efficient appliances. This is called a “split incentive.”

HOST: How can we fix split incentives?

CASEY: Encouraging landlords to improve the insulation in their buildings is more impactful than encouraging renters to use less heat and air conditioning. There is also a policy proposal that would encourage or require landlords to disclose the energy use of their buildings to potential tenants.

HOST: Would you rent a different apartment if you knew the electricity bills were high? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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