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Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage

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  • Ian Ayres
  • Sophie Raseman
  • Alice Shih

Abstract

By providing feedback to customers on home electricity and natural gas usage with a focus on peer comparisons, utilities can reduce energy consumption at a low cost. We analyze data from two large-scale, random-assignment field experiments conducted by utility companies providing electricity (the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)) and electricity and natural gas (Puget Sound Energy (PSE)), in partnership with a private company, Positive Energy/oPower, which provides monthly or quarterly mailed peer feedback reports to customers. We find reductions in energy consumption of 1.2% (PSE) to 2.1% percent (SMUD), with the decrease sustained over time (seven months (PSE) and twelve months (SMUD)).

Suggested Citation

  • Ian Ayres & Sophie Raseman & Alice Shih, 2009. "Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback Can Reduce Residential Energy Usage," NBER Working Papers 15386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15386
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    1. Noah J. Goldstein & Robert B. Cialdini & Vladas Griskevicius, 2008. "A Room with a Viewpoint: Using Social Norms to Motivate Environmental Conservation in Hotels," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 472-482, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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