Energy efficiency is one of the pillars of the ’Energy Strategy 2050’ and therefore an important issue next to new renewables. However, how efficient are we already now? At the Centre for Energy Policy and Economics (CEPE) we try to answer this question at least for households.

Within the project “Underlying energy efficiency and technological change in the Swiss household sector”, we try to answer the following questions: What is the level of efficiency in the use of energy in Swiss households and therefore how large is the potential for savings? And do energy and investment literacy influence the level of efficiency?

The level of energy efficiency of Swiss households can be measured with a bottom-up approach, by making an on-site efficiency analysis of buildings. However, with such an economic-engineering approach, the behavioural aspects in energy use are not accounted for. Therefore, we estimate a household’s level of energy demand and energy efficiency with mathematical and statistical methods, accounting for factors such as characteristics of the residence, number and type of appliances, as well as socio-economic and demographic variables. With this approach a ’fair’ benchmarking of Swiss households with respect to their energy consumption can be performed.

In order to apply this approach, we carried out a household survey in cooperation with nine Swiss utilities supplying major urban areas in different parts of Switzerland. The survey delivers data on more than 8’000 Swiss households. Next to the residence and household characteristics we also measure the knowledge on energy topics of the survey respondents. Do the respondents for example know how much they spend on electricity when using a washing machine at 60°C? With this and similar other questions we want to estimate whether energy and investment literacy influence the level of efficiency in the use of electricity. We recently finished the data collection and cleaning and will expect the first results in the next couple of months.

Energy literacy might be an important factor to energy efficiency (Photo: Nina Boogen)

The mission of the research group of Professor Massimo Filippini is to improve the understanding of  issues in energy economics and policy and to make critical contributions in the  design and evaluation of energy policy instruments by applying econometric methods.

Within the area of economics of energy efficiency, they apply microeconometric methods to measure the level of energy efficiency and to analyze the behavior of building owners with respect to energy saving measures. The economic impact of energy policy instruments is analyzed. Within the empirical analysis of energy demand area, research focus is on the  econometric estimation of the demand function for gasoline, electricity,  and gas using both disaggregated and aggregated panel data to provide  policy makers with information on price and income elasticities. Within the area of productivity, efficiency, and regulation, their research focus is on the econometric estimation of frontier cost functions and on the use of  the firm’s productive efficiency indicators derived from these cost  frontiers in the regulation of energy distribution companies.

The group’s research also focuses on two areas in health economics and policy: The economics of drugs, in particular the demand for antibiotics,  and the economics of long-term health care services for the elderly, in  particular, the regulation and productivity of nursing home. In order to promote excellent research activities, members of the group  at all levels (including PhD students) cooperate internationally,  participate actively in international conferences, and strive for  publications in the leading international journals in the fields of  energy economics and policy and public economics.