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Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability News: How Labeling Helps us Choose Efficient Light Bulbs
From: Allison Winter, ENN
Published January 22, 2014 08:37 AM

How Labeling Helps us Choose Efficient Light Bulbs

When shopping for "green", "energy efficient", or "organic" products, consumers often have to decide if the price is worth it as these products are generally more expensive at the checkout line. Here starts the dilemma: how much would you pay for a healthier, nontoxic product or is an upfront cost worth energy efficient savings in the long run?

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When it comes to purchasing light bulbs, according to a new study conducted by Leeds University Business School and Carnegie Mellon University, consumers are more willing to buy energy efficient brands when the energy costs are clearly labeled.

Wändi Bruine de Bruin, Professor of Behavioural Decision-making at Leeds University Business School, was part of a team which explored how people choose light bulbs in order to understand the willingness of consumers to invest in energy efficient technologies.

The team conducted experiments with consumers, using a mobile lab to meet people where they shopped. Customers were asked to choose between a selection of different light bulbs. By observing the choices that people made, the researchers could infer which aspects were most important to customers when buying a bulb.

Energy efficient bulbs are more expensive than alternative ones and this has historically deterred people from buying them. However, when an estimated annual energy cost was placed on the label, consumers were more likely to give energy efficient bulbs a chance.

Professor de Bruin said: "Our study highlights the importance of providing understandable of energy efficiency labels."

The study showed that not all consumers acted in the same way. While lower income earners were more concerned about saving money at the point of purchase, high income consumers were more willing to invest in long term energy savings.

The study, which has been published in the journal Ecological Economics, suggests that the new labels implemented by the US Federal Trade Commission in 2012, which include operating cost information, are likely to help encourage the adoption of efficient light bulbs.

Read more at the University of Leeds.

Light bulb image via Shutterstock.

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