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Smart meters as an opportunity to motivate households for energy savings? Designing innovative policy instruments based on the coupling of smart meters and non-financial incentives


  • Hélène Joachain
  • Frédéric Klopfert


The process of deploying smart meters in EU’s households is following its course. Cost-benefit analyses are being carried out in Member States and new Directives are replacing the one that gave the initial impulse. However, throughout this process, smart meters are always presented as a way to reduce customer energy consumption. This makes potential energy savings in households a crucial element in the debate. But what is the rationale to expect energy savings in households and how are those savings evaluated? A major strand of research in this field has investigated to which extent the feed-back provided by smart meters could lead to behavioural changes or investment decisions that could, in turn, lower energy consumption. However, there is another dimension to the matter which has, in our view, not received the attention it deserves. This dimension revolves around households’ motivation to actually use the feed-back and advices provided in order to lower their energy consumption. Besides, how this motivation could be sustained over time is also a crucial issue, as some studies show that energy savings tend to fade with time. This paper is addressing the possibility to use the smart meter infrastructure to motivate households for energy savings. It is centred on the design of innovative policy instruments that couple non-financial incentives (complementary currencies) to smart meters. Indeed, non-financial incentives have specific features in terms of symbolic value, social dimension, limitation of the rebound effect and “green challenge” that could initiate and sustain household motivation over time. A form of regulatory architecture is also explored, as well as the coupling with a market-based financial incentive inspired by the concept of white certificates with households as obliged actors.

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  • Hélène Joachain & Frédéric Klopfert, 2013. "Smart meters as an opportunity to motivate households for energy savings? Designing innovative policy instruments based on the coupling of smart meters and non-financial incentives," Working Papers CEB 13-008, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/138398

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Energy savings; energy policy; behavioural change; smart metering; complementary currency;
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