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The dynamics of behavior change: Evidence from energy conservation

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  • Omar Isaac Asensio
  • Magali A Delmas

Abstract

Little is known about the effect of message framing on conservation behavior over time. In a randomized controlled trial with residential households, we use advanced metering and information technologies to test how different messages about household energy use impact the dynamics of conservation behavior down to the appliance level. Our results, based on 374 million panel observations of kilowatt-hour (kWh) electricity consumption for 118 households over 9 months, show that differences in behavioral responses due to message framing become more significant over time. We find that a health-based frame, in which households consider the human health effects of their marginal electricity use, induced persistent energy savings behavior of 8-10% over 100 days; whereas a more traditional cost savings frame, drove sharp attenuation of treatment effects after 2 weeks with no significant savings versus control after 7 weeks. We discuss the implications for the design of effective information campaigns to engage households in conservation behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Omar Isaac Asensio & Magali A Delmas, 2016. "The dynamics of behavior change: Evidence from energy conservation," Natural Field Experiments 00636, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00636
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    Cited by:

    1. Schubert, Christian, 2017. "Green nudges: Do they work? Are they ethical?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 329-342.
    2. repec:eee:eneeco:v:81:y:2019:i:c:p:273-286 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Robert Hahn & Robert D. Metcalfe & David Novgorodsky & Michael K. Price, 2016. "The Behavioralist as Policy Designer: The Need to Test Multiple Treatments to Meet Multiple Targets," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2016-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    4. Rocha, Marta & Baddeley, Michelle & Pollitt, Michael & Weeks, Melvyn, 2019. "Addressing self-disconnection among prepayment energy consumers: A behavioural approach," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 273-286.
    5. repec:eee:rensus:v:114:y:2019:i:c:30 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:eneeco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:215-227 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Matthew E. Oliver & Juan Moreno-Cruz & Ross C. Beppler, 2019. "Microeconomics of the rebound effect for residential solar photovoltaic systems," CESifo Working Paper Series 7635, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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