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

Working paper 763
Author(s): 
Rebecca Klege, Martine Visser, Saugato Datta, Matthew Darling
Publication date: 
September, 2018
Classification-JEL: 

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.

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