The percentage of U.S. homes heated with electricity has increased steadily from 1% in 1950, to 8% in 1970, to 26% in 1990, to 39% in 2018. The paper presented in this SWEEEP Seminar investigates the key determinants of this increase in electrification using data on heating choices from millions of U.S. households over a 70-year period. Energy prices, geography, climate, housing characteristics, and household income are shown to collectively explain 90% of the increase, with changing energy prices by far the most important single factor. This framework is then used to calculate the economic cost of an electrification mandate for new homes. Households in warm states tend to prefer electricity anyway, so would be made worse off by less than $300 annually on average. Household in cold states, however, tend to strongly prefer natural gas so would be made worse off by $1000+ annually. These findings are directly relevant to a growing number of policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions through electrification, and underscore the importance of pricing energy efficiently.


Lucas Davis

University of California, Berkeley, USA

Environmental, energy, and ecological problems have grown faster than their solutions. Economists have an important role to play to address these issues by using the latest science, rigorous methods and innovative policy solutions. The SWEEEP webinar series aims to convene the academic community to contribute to the scientific, economic, and policy discourses on important environmental and energy issues.

The seminar presentations are scheduled to last 60 minutes, with questions at the end.

The European Institute on Economics and the Environment is a partnership between Resources for the Future and Foundation CMCC. EIEE’s impartial economic and environmental research aims to facilitate the transition to a sustainable, inclusive society.
Contact: Professor Massimo Tavoni

The Energy Management research team at the Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) combines research on economics, strategic management, technology innovation and energy policy in order to create and share knowledge that will help society move towards a low-carbon future.
Contact: Professor Sébastien Houde

The ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research is a leading German economic policy institute and a member of the Leibniz Association. ZEW's applied research aims to study and help design well-performing markets and institutions in Europe. In particular, it seeks to understand how to create a market framework that will enable the sustainable and efficient development of European economies.
Contact: Professor Sebastian Rausch

The Centre for Energy Policy and Economics (CEPE) was established in 1999 to complement the natural science and technical-oriented disciplines at ETH Zurich, by contributing to research and teaching in energy policy and economics.  Through rigorous application of modern empirical methods, the goal of CEPE is to make critical contributions to the design and evaluation of energy and climate policy instruments.
Contact: Professor Massimo Filippini

Please contact Kinga Tchorzewska if you wish to participate in the online seminar.


12.05.2021 | 15:00 - 16:00 (CET)

Event Location