We examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the formation of energy conservation routines. To do so, we use data from two nationwide surveys of German households, conducted before and during the pandemic. Across the two survey waves, we document a significant increase in the likelihood respondents report engaging in a variety of energy conservation routines, such as unplugging electronic appliances after use and switching off lights when leaving a room. To understand what drives this result, we provide evidence that observed energy saving actions reflect an increased attention devoted to energy consumption while staying at home, as opposed to income shocks experienced during the pandemic. We also rule out an increase in pro-environmental concern during the pandemic as driver of our results. Rather, we find evidence consistent with a “finite pool of worry,” that might have even limited the impact of increased attention on the adoption of energy saving routines. In sum, our findings highlight the importance of consumer attention for the adoption of conservation routines to fight global climate change in a post-pandemic world.
Löschel, Andreas, Michael K. Price, Laura Razzolini and Madeline Werthschulte (2022), COVID-19 and the Formation of Energy Conservation Routines: Disentangling the Relative Importance of Attention and Income Shocks, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 22-068, Mannheim.