Smarter than metering? Coupling smart meters and complementary currencies to reinforce the motivation of households for energy savings
A crucial argument in the debate around smart meter deployment in the EU is the potential for households to save energy. One strand of research in this field has investigated the effects on household energy consumption of the feed-back provided by smart meters. However, another aspect that deserves attention is the motivation for households to use the feed-back to save energy. This paper explores how the emerging trend of using complementary currencies for sustainability policies could translate into new interventions adapted to the smart meter deployment and capable of promoting more autonomous forms of motivation compared to interventions using official currencies. Three systems designs (rewarding, regulatory and hybrid) are presented and discussed within the framework of self-determination theory. Because the rewarding system S1 can contribute positively people's basic needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness, it could lead to more autonomous forms of motivation. The conclusions regarding the regulatory system S2 are less clear, although the hybrid variant S3 that integrates mechanisms from the rewarding system into the regulatory system could be perceived as more consonant with people's basic need for autonomy.
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