BBISS Seminar Series - Dylan Brewer

BBISS Seminar Series Event Banner for Dylan Brewer 10/19/23

Who Heeds the Call in an Energy Emergency? Evidence from Smart Thermostat Data

Dylan Brewer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology

October 19, 2023, 3 - 4 PM ET
Hybrid Event - Teams Link
BBISS Offices, 760 Spring Street, Suite 118
Refreshments will be served.

Abstract: In 2019, a fire at a natural gas plant and historically low temperatures caused an emergency shortage of natural gas in Michigan. To avoid an outage, the Governor issued a request via statewide text alert to turn thermostats down to 65 degrees F. We analyze the effectiveness of this request using high-frequency smart-thermostat data from Michigan and four neighboring states. Using a difference-in-differences research design, we find that Michigan households reduced thermostat settings by 1.1 degrees on average following the Governor’s request. Households that were previously above 65 degrees F responded strongly, while households that were below did not respond at all or increased their thermostat settings. Meanwhile, households in districts that voted for the Governor in 2018 were more likely to comply. Our results suggest that unrealistic compliance goals and political polarization reduce the effectiveness of emergency calls to conserve energy.

Bio: Dylan Brewer joined the faculty at the School of Economics in 2019. He received his PhD in Economics with a dual major in Environmental Science and Policy from Michigan State University in May 2019 as well as a Master of Arts degree in Economics from the same institution in 2016. Prior to his graduate studies, Dylan completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in Economics and International Relations at the University of Virginia in 2014. Dylan's research uses the tools of empirical industrial organization, applied econometrics, and machine learning to answer questions in energy and environmental economics. Focusing on incentives for energy use and conservation under different institutional regimes, he emphasizes applying economic insight to problems in energy and the environment by blending theory and empirics with a clear and straightforward analysis. Current projects include research on residential energy use, demand management in electricity markets, and urban issues such as street lighting, crime, and taxi demand. Additionally, Dylan is a member of the board of trustees for the State of Michigan Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.