Consumer purchases of major home appliances are an important aspect of the discussion about greenhouse gas reduction and global climate change for two reasons. First, major home appliances account for approximately one third of residential electricity consumption, a principal source of greenhouse gases. Second, appliance purchases give consumers a direct opportunity to affect greenhouse gas emissions. Absent other intervening factors, most consumers would probably wish to purchase appliances which save energy and money, and which are environmentally friendly. The questions for policy-makers revolve around what choices are available to consumers now, how consumers make their current choices, and how might it be practical to influence consumer choice.
This paper frames the policy issues by first focusing attention on the appliance categories that are purchased directly by consumers and that are significant consumers of electricity. Second, it analyzes the economic ramifications for consumers of their appliance purchase options. Finally, it reviews past attempts to influence consumer choice through public policy initiatives and suggests how new initiatives could be targeted more effectively. Further research is necessary in order to project how much energy would be conserved through any specific policy initiative.
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