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The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation

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  • Hunt Allcott
  • Todd Rogers
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    Abstract

    We document three remarkable features of the Opower program, in which social comparison- based home energy reports are repeatedly mailed to more than six million households nationwide. First, initial reports cause high-frequency “action and backsliding,” but these cycles attenuate over time. Second, if reports are discontinued after two years, effects are relatively persistent, decaying at 10-20 percent per year. Third, consumers are slow to habituate: they continue to respond to repeated treatment even after two years. We show that the previous conservative assumptions about post-intervention persistence had dramatically understated cost effectiveness and illustrate how empirical estimates can optimize program design.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18492.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18492

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    Cited by:
    1. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2013. "Can Indifference Make the World Greener?," Working Paper Series 975, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    2. Allcott, Hunt & Rogers, Todd, 2012. "How Long Do Treatment Effects Last? Persistence and Durability of a Descriptive Norms Intervention's Effect on Energy Conservation," Working Paper Series rwp12-045, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2013. "Using Field Experiments in Environmental and Resource Economics," NBER Working Papers 19289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Delmas, Magali A. & Lessem, Neil, 2014. "Saving power to conserve your reputation? The effectiveness of private versus public information," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 353-370.
    5. Paul Dolan & Robert Metcalfe, 2013. "Neighbors, knowledge, and nuggets: two natural field experiments on the role of incentives on energy conservation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51563, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Gerard, Francois, 2013. "What Changes Energy Consumption, and for How Long? New Evidence from the 2001 Brazilian Electricity Crisis," Discussion Papers dp-13-06, Resources For the Future.

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