Desired and Undesired Effects of Energy Labels—An Eye-Tracking StudyReport as inadecuate

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Saving energy is an important pillar for the mitigation of climate change. Electric devices e.g., freezer and television are an important player in the residential sector in the final demand for energy. Consumers’ purchase decisions are therefore crucial to successfully reach the energy-efficiency goals. Putting energy labels on products is often considered an adequate way of empowering consumers to make informed purchase decisions. Consequently, this approach should contribute to reducing overall energy consumption. The effectiveness of its measurement depends on consumers’ use and interpretation of the information provided. Despite advances in energy efficiency and a mandatory labeling policy, final energy consumption per capita is in many countries still increasing. This paper provides a systematic analysis of consumers’ reactions to one of the most widely used eco-labels, the European Union EU energy label, by using eye-tracking methodology as an objective measurement. The study’s results partially support the EU’s mandatory policy, showing that the energy label triggers attention toward energy information in general. However, the energy label’s effect on consumers’ actual product choices seems to be rather low. The study’s results show that the currently used presentation format on the label is insufficient. The findings suggest that it does not facilitate the integration of energy-related information. Furthermore, the current format can attract consumers to focus more on energy-efficiency information, leading them to disregard information about actual energy consumption. As a result, the final energy consumption may increase because excellent ratings on energy efficiency e.g., A++ do not automatically imply little consumption. Finally, implications for policymakers and suggestions for further research are discussed.

Author: Signe Waechter , Bernadette Sütterlin, Michael Siegrist



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