QUESTION TYPE: Weaken
CONCLUSION: It is unlikely that consumers will switch back to oil.
REASONING: The price of oil increased and government policies promoted conservation. Many people switched and there were significant investment costs to switching.
ANALYSIS: There are two parts that make it tough to change back to oil: the price of oil, and switching costs.
To weaken the argument, we can show two things:
1. There is some incentive to switch to oil (perhaps the oil price has dropped) and
2. It doesn’t cost very much to switch to oil. (Perhaps the price of oil equipment has dropped.)
The price of natural gas equipment is irrelevant to people who want to switch away from natural gas.
- This shows that it’s easier to switch to natural gas.
- If people are already using natural gas, then they don’t need to pay the cost of equipment.
- This shows that the cost to heat homes with oil has decreased. People might want to switch but presumably they would have to invest in oil heating equipment. That could be expensive.
- CORRECT. The price of oil has fallen, so people have an incentive to switch. Meanwhile the price of oil heating equipment has fallen, so it isn’t hard to switch.
- Presumably, there is some strong reason not to use oil if fewer people use it even when the price drops.
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