“The Power of Nudging: Using Feedback, Competition and Responsibility Assignment to Save Electricity in a Non-Residential Setting”

17 September 2018
Publication Type: Working Paper
JEL Code: C21, C90, D03, L94, Q41

We use behavioural insights to design nudges leveraging social comparison and assignment of responsibility aimed at reducing electricity consumption in a large provincial government office building with 24 floors. Results from a randomized control trial show that floors participating in a treatment with inter-floor competitions and tips reduced energy consumption by 9%, while those that also included floor-wise ‘energy advocates” reduced energy consumption by 14% over a period of 5 months. These reductions – which are among the largest demonstrated in any utilities setting – cause us to re-evaluate the conventional wisdom that asserts that it is harder to nudge behaviour in non-residential settings (such as office buildings) where users do not face the financial consequences of their behaviour than it is in residential settings, where they benefit financially from conservation efforts.

Series title: Working paper 763
1 September 2018
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