November, 2015

Energy Efficiency Consultants as Change Agents?

Examining the Reasons for EECs’ Limited Success
  • Petrik Runst

    Researcher, Institute for Small Business Economics, University of Göttingen
  • Daniel Feser

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Residential energy consumption has been increasingly singled out by public policies as a key area for potential emission reduction. The public implementation of energy efficiency consultants (EECs) as change agents aims at the diffusion of innovation in building efficiency and overcoming information asymmetries in the construction sector. However, the success of these measures has been described as low. We conducted a case study involving 17 in-depth expert interviews to examine the causes of this failure within the German institutional context. This analysis has important implications for EECs in general and other European countries. We show that credence good characteristics in the ECC market led to a low willingness to pay. Certification of EECs does not suffice to overcome information asymmetries. We also identify a mismatch between EECs and customer incentives. As top-down policies have failed to facilitate a viable EEC market, we recommend a greater role for private and private-public networks, the cutting of EEC subsidies and a closer alignment between climate policy goals and home owners’ economic efficiency considerations.

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