to the top

#16 - Tenants who do not have to pay their own electricity

Laurianna
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 9
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:42 am
Points: 9

I haven't yet seen any discussion of questions from the June 2017 LSAT, but have quite a few myself about some of the logical reasoning questions.

To start, I am still having trouble with Section 5 Question 16.

I'm wondering if it is okay to begin discussing specific questions from the test on this forum?

Thanks!!
Jon Denning
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 873
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:36 pm
Points: 1,137

Hi Laurianna - no problem! We can begin fielding questions from that test, but keep two things in mind at this stage: it's not publicly available yet so we need to be careful how we discuss content (quoting large chunks verbatim, for instance, is a no-no; a truth that holds for other, public tests as well btw), and not a lot of people have a copy yet so you may find the discussions for it to be a little on the quiet/slow side for now. Once it's more widespread comments and queries will for sure pick up, but don't be alarmed if it feels a bit lonely for a spell :)

On to 16!

This the question in LR2 about tenants and their electricity bills, correct?

Assuming so, what we have here is a Weaken question, where we'll need an answer choice to provide some additional information that attacks the author's conclusion. Give also that this is question 16—i.e. likely to be on the more difficult end of the LR spectrum—my expectation is that the correct answer probably won't have a hugely detrimental effect. Instead I'm anticipating some new info that introduces a shred of doubt, but doesn't exactly destroy the author's belief!

Let's start with the conclusion. This argument is that if landlords can, and do, begin billing individual tenants for their electricity use (instead of paying for it themselves) it will lead to energy being conserved. In other words, as soon as the landlord is off the hook and tenants are responsible for themselves overall energy consumption drops. Why? Because tenants who don't pay their own electricity bills have no financial incentive to conserve electricity.

It's the old "oh, dinner's on you? Surf 'n turf it is, then!" The assumption being that once people are on the hook for their own behavior, they'll behave better.

How could we weaken that? There are a few broad ideas—prephrases in a way—that could do it:

1. Show that even when tenants do start paying they're still unconcerned with how they use energy. That fits the facts of the stimulus, and essentially shows that even with theoretical cause removed (landlords no longer paying), the effect still occurs (energy used as always). For my surf 'n turf example it would be like saying, "actually, he always orders that meal, regardless of if he's paying or someone else is."

That's pretty simple though, so for a question this deep into the section I'd be shocked to see it as the right answer.

2. We could show something about the mechanics of the proposed plan—installing individual electricity meters—that negates any proposed gains from the plan's outcome. That is, if loads of running meters consume more electricity than is likely to be saved by tenants' attempts at curbing consumption, then the plan may not result in an overall net reduction.

This is a trickier idea that (1) above, and I could theoretically see it happening (they test it plenty), but it's not present in this particular question.

3. We could show that if the landlords are no longer responsible for energy costs, it leads to some other higher-energy outcome. Maybe landlords paying electric bills disable all the building's lights from midnight to 6 am, or lock the thermostats at 76 degrees year-round, or only allow hot water to run for an hour window each day, or...well you get the idea. If them being no longer responsible removes some prior energy-reducing feature, something that tenants may not reintroduce, then even with tenants trying to be more energy-conscious we still may not get an overall conservation.

And sure enough, this is it! Answer choice (C) tells us that when landlords foot the bill they have a strong incentive to install energy efficient appliances. What does that suggest then when landlords no longer pay? They may not install those same energy efficient appliances, meaning tenants move in, are paying the bills...but even with their best efforts and intentions electricity usage may still not be as low as it would have been with freewheeling tenants using low-energy appliances (the landlord paying scenario). The conclusion, in other words, may not hold true.

Notice the number of instances of "may" in that paragraph above. That's what I mean by softer weaken. Question 16 weaken. It's not nearly as straightforward, as directly adversarial, as what you tend to see in earlier, easier questions, but the rule of weaken is simply this: the answer that introduces more doubt than the other four, even if it only makes the argument 1% less likely, is correct.

None of the other answers give us a reason to think that the plan of moving from landlord-pay to tenant-pay may not reduce electricity usage the way the author thinks, so (C), despite its relative tameness, wins.

I hope that helps!

Jon
Jon Denning
PowerScore Test Preparation

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jonmdenning
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/jon-denning
mN2mmvf
LSAT Master
 
Posts: 113
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2017 12:14 pm
Points: 112

I still don't quite understand (C). The force of the argument is that being personally on the hook for an expense will result in energy conservation. Even if the landlords had in the first case installed energy-efficient appliances, later requiring the tenants to pay for monitored usage would still likely result in energy savings. It's not like powering energy-efficient appliances is so cheap that the personal incentive would be rendered meaningless. Even if it were practically free, there's no reason to think that monitoring wouldn't still result in *some* energy conservation. And that's all the argument claims.
Francis O'Rourke
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 474
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2017 2:44 pm
Points: 469

Even if the landlords had in the first case installed energy-efficient appliances, later requiring the tenants to pay for monitored usage would still likely result in energy savings.


It sounds like you are understanding a case, in which the landlords have already installed energy-saving appliances and there is nothing further to be done to make the appliances in the household more energy efficient. So, we can now shift the burden to tenants to reap even further energy savings. Is this correct?

If that is so, you are making a strong assumption. Landlords can and do replace appliances and make repairs or upgrades to dwellings.

If you have not yet done so, make sure to read Jon Denning's explanation of above prephrase possibility #3. The important point there is that the stimulus left open the possibility that landlords' future actions may conserve more energy than tenants' future actions.

Let me know if this helps! :-D
wrjackson1
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:03 pm
Points: 22

Hi, how do you suggest coming at this harder "softer" questions? right now, I try to identify the assumption and find things that would weaken it (alternative, doesn't hold true, etc.) but I never would have thought to think so specific as answer C. Any suggestions?
Shannon Parker
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2016 3:51 pm
Points: 104

wrjackson1 wrote:Hi, how do you suggest coming at this harder "softer" questions? right now, I try to identify the assumption and find things that would weaken it (alternative, doesn't hold true, etc.) but I never would have thought to think so specific as answer C. Any suggestions?


Take each answer choice one by one and see if it can be eliminated. In this case we can see that answer choice A has no effect not he conclusion, whether the tenant has to pay more rent is based on them not paying the electricity bill not on how much is used. Answer choice B strengthens the conclusion because it ensures that tenants who are paying their own bill are aware that they could save money. Answer choice D has to do with the price of rewiring, not the conservation of energy. Answer choice E deals with the conservation of energy but is specially outside the relationship of the argument in the stimulus because the stimulus deals with "financial incentive" whereas answer choice E deals with "reasons that are not related to cost savings."

Answer choice C, is left as the correct answer. "Landlords who pay for their tenants' electricity have a strong incentive to make sure that the appliances they provide for their tenants are energy efficient." If this is true the reverse must also be true. Landlords whose tenants pay their own bill, do not have the same incentive to make sure that they provide energy efficient appliances. If the appliances are not efficient, they could be using more energy even if the tenant is attempting to conserve. Thus C is correct.

Hope this helps.
Shannon
erust2
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat May 19, 2018 12:38 pm
Points: 18

I chose A for this one. It seems that if a tennant is already paying more in rent, what incentive do they have to reduce consumption if hey are billed separately?
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 2699
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 2,512

What we are looking to do here, erust, is show that shifting electric bills from landlords to tenants might not lead to more conservation of energy. Answer A suggests that shifting the responsibility to tenants might mean reducing their rent, since rent is higher when the landlord pays the electric bills, but why wouldn't the tenants then conserve energy to capture the possible savings associated with the lower rent? Why not turn off lights, limit the use of hot water, and adjust the thermostat to save a few bucks? Why wouldn't that change in responsibility lead to more conservation? Because answer A still has me wondering, rather than doubting the claims made by the author, it's not a weaken answer. It has no impact on the conclusion of the argument! Tenants obviously have no incentive to conserve if their landlords are paying the bill, but why wouldn't we see reduced consumption when the tenants have to start paying them?

Answer C gives us information about the good being offset in some way. Tenants will have incentives to conserve, but now landlords will lose their corresponding incentive to be energy conscious, so maybe they will buy cheaper appliances that use a lot more energy? You don't use as much hot water, but your electric water heater costs twice as much to run as would the one the landlord would have installed if he was on the hook, perhaps? Look for that offset, that harm that comes from the new approach, and that is what will weaken the claim that the new approach will be a good one.
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam
1800-HELPME
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri May 19, 2017 3:51 pm
Points: 16

Hello,

I picked (E) because I thought that it sort of fit this prephrase:

"1. Show that even when tenants do start paying they're still unconcerned with how they use energy. That fits the facts of the stimulus, and essentially shows that even with theoretical cause removed (landlords no longer paying), the effect still occurs (energy used as always). For my surf 'n turf example it would be like saying, "actually, he always orders that meal, regardless of if he's paying or someone else is."

I was thinking that even if the landlord installed individual electricity meters, people wouldn't conserve energy anyways because they don't care about cost savings.

Can someone explain why this is wrong?

Thank you!
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 2699
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 2,512

That's not quite what answer E is saying, HELPME, so let me see if I can helpyou. Answer E is saying that some people (how many? At least one, maybe all, could be anywhere in between) conserve energy for other reasons than cost. Maybe some conserve because they care about the planet. Maybe some do it because that's just what they were taught to do. Maybe some do it because they are afraid if they don't, they will get in trouble or the energy will run out or because they want to avoid attracting the attention of the government or the alien overlords. So some folks have other reasons. Does that do anything to harm the claim that making the tenants responsible will lead to more conservation? Nope, because while it could be that some people have other reasons, some other people might care about the money. "Some don't care about the money" is completely compatible with with "some people DO care about the money" - they can both be true at the same time! As long as some people care about cost savings, it could be that putting the financial burden on them will give them an incentive to conserve more, leading to a net increase in conservation. For the folks that do not care about the money, they will keep doing what they always did.

One other thing to consider, and that is that some people might conserve for non-financial reasons, like caring about the environment, but even those folks might try to conserve even more when it starts to hit them in the wallet! Having a non-financial reason for doing what you do doesn't preclude having an additional, financial reason for doing it even more!

That's why E doesn't weaken this argument, HELPME. Those "some" people aren't necessarily the only people, and even they might end up with more than one motive for conserving.
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam