Feedback, Social Nudges, and Energy Conservation

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond
Abstract: In the context of climate change and heightened concerns about our energy future, academics and policy makers have taken an interest in the different motivational factors influencing individuals’ energy use. One area of particular interest is the role of information and other non-financial motivators: When traditional financial incentives are not appropriate, can contextualized information programs be used to encourage energy conservation? In our research we conduct an experiment to examine the effect of feedback and social nudges on the energy consumption of renters in utility-inclusive contracts. A sample of 64 households at a University of Massachusetts Amherst family housing complex was selected to participate in this experiment. These residents pay utility-inclusive rent and previously had no means of gaining access to information regarding their personal energy consumption. Households were randomly divided into a control and two treatment groups. During the first phase of the experiment, both treatment groups received weekly Home Energy Reports [HERs] with feedback pertaining to their electricity consumption and its associated financial cost. During the second phase of the experiment both treatment groups continued to receive these HERs as before but with one distinction: households in one of the treatment groups received additional information as to how their electricity consumption compared to the electricity consumption of others in the complex (a social nudge). Analysis of this experiment suggests that feedback on own electricity usage reduced electricity consumption on average by 1.9%, while the social nudge increased electricity consumption by 3.6%. Further investigation into the cause of this positive effect on electricity consumption from social contextualization reveals that this figure was driven by low-consumers of electricity, who subsequently increased their electricity consumption upon receiving the social #nudge.
See on ageconsearch.umn.edu


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agosto: 2015
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