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

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Listed:
  • Hunt Allcott
  • Todd Rogers

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hunt Allcott & Todd Rogers, 2012. "The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation," NBER Working Papers 18492, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18492
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    Cited by:

    1. Hobman, Elizabeth V. & Frederiks, Elisha R. & Stenner, Karen & Meikle, Sarah, 2016. "Uptake and usage of cost-reflective electricity pricing: Insights from psychology and behavioural economics," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 455-467.
    2. Dolan, Paul & Metcalfe, Robert, 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.
    3. Egebark, Johan & Ekström, Mathias, 2016. "Can indifference make the world greener?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 76(C), pages 1-13.
    4. Joshua Graff Zivin and Kevin Novan, 2016. "Upgrading Efficiency and Behavior: Electricity Savings from Residential Weatherization Programs," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4).
    5. 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.
    6. repec:exl:22evid:v:2017:y:2017:i:1:p:- is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Shahzeen Z. Attari & Gautam Gowrisankaran & Troy Simpson & Sabine M. Marx, 2014. "Does Information Feedback from In-Home Devices Reduce Electricity Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 20809, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins & Robert C. Stowe, 2015. "An Assessment of the Energy-Efficiency Gap and Its Implications for Climate Change Policy," Working Papers 2015.28, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Lucia Reisch & Cass Sunstein, 2014. "Redesigning Cockpits," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 333-339, September.
    10. María Bernedo & Paul Ferraro & Michael Price, 2014. "The Persistent Impacts of Norm-Based Messaging and Their Implications for Water Conservation," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 437-452, September.
    11. Rachel Croson & Nicolas Treich, 2014. "Behavioral Environmental Economics: Promises and Challenges," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 58(3), pages 335-351, July.
    12. David P. Byrne & Andrea La Nauze & Leslie A.Martin, 2014. "Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know:Informedness and External Validity in Information Programs," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1180, The University of Melbourne.
    13. repec:eee:rensus:v:77:y:2017:i:c:p:1146-1168 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. 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.
    15. Allcott, Hunt & Rogers, Todd T, 2012. "How Long Do Treatment Effects Last? Persistence and Durability of a Descriptive Norms Intervention's Effect on Energy Conservation," Scholarly Articles 9804492, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    16. Anderson, Kyle & Song, Kwonsik & Lee, SangHyun & Krupka, Erin & Lee, Hyunsoo & Park, Moonseo, 2017. "Longitudinal analysis of normative energy use feedback on dormitory occupants," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 623-639.
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2016. "Editor's Choice The Use of Field Experiments in Environmental and Resource Economics," Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 10(2), pages 206-225.
    20. repec:eee:appene:v:218:y:2018:i:c:p:304-316 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Momsen, Katharina & Stoerk, Thomas, 2014. "From intention to action: Can nudges help consumers to choose renewable energy?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 376-382.
    22. Anderson, Kyle & Lee, SangHyun, 2016. "An empirically grounded model for simulating normative energy use feedback interventions," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 272-282.
    23. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10460-016-9705-4 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • L97 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Utilities: General
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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