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Goal setting and energy conservation

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  • Harding, Matthew
  • Hsiaw, Alice

Abstract

This paper develops a theoretical model of consumer demand for an energy conservation program that involves non-binding, self-set goals. We present evidence from a Northern Illinois goal-setting program, aimed at reducing residential electricity consumption, which is difficult to reconcile with standard preferences and is broadly consistent with a model of present-biased consumers with reference-dependent preferences. We find that the need for commitment is correlated with program adoption, higher pre-adoption consumption, and lower responsiveness to goals. Consumers choosing realistic goals persistently save substantially more, achieving savings of nearly 11%, than those choosing very low or unrealistically high goals.

Suggested Citation

  • Harding, Matthew & Hsiaw, Alice, 2014. "Goal setting and energy conservation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 107(PA), pages 209-227.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:107:y:2014:i:pa:p:209-227
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2014.04.012
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Goal-setting; Reference dependence; Self-control; Energy conservation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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