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Encouraging energy conservation at work: A field study testing social norm feedback and awareness of monitoring

Wong-Parodi, Gabrielle, Krishnamurti, Tamar, Gluck, Joshua, Agarwal, Yuvraj
Energy policy 2019 v.130 pp. 197-205
energy, energy conservation, energy costs, field experimentation, issues and policy, monitoring, motivation, social behavior
The financial cost of personal energy consumption is substantial at the organizational level. Rarely do incentives for saving energy for the individual employee and organization align, making conservation a challenge. Here we perform a 12-week field experiment piloting two behavioral strategies: (1) social norms feedback and (2) awareness of energy monitoring, to encourage savings among 46 administrative staff at a university who were given the impression of participating in an energy quality study to reduce self-selection bias. Those in the social norms feedback condition used significantly less energy during the intervention (10% less energy) and follow up monitoring (11% less energy) phases compared to their baseline consumption. Moreover, these participants demonstrated that they learned more about their energy use than did those in the awareness monitoring condition. For policy makers and building mangers interested in the effectiveness of behavioral nudges in inducing energy savings, social norms feedback appears to be an effective energy savings nudge in an organizational setting where there are neither financial savings at-stake nor intrinsic motivation to conserve.