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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Resource Economics

Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



In the context of climate change and heightened concerns about our energy future, academics and policy makers have taken an interest in the different motivational factors influencing individuals’ energy-use behavior. One area of particular interest is the role of information and other non-financial motivators: When traditional financial incentives are not appropriate or inadequate, are there alternative means we can use to encourage energy conservation?

Our research looks at the effect of two different types of information programs used to promote household energy conservation: feedback and social nudges. To do this we conducted a field experiment at a family housing complex where the cost of electricity is included in the rent. Residents were presented with weekly Home Electricity Reports [HERs] with feedback on their electricity use. A portion of the residents additionally received HERs with information about how their electricity consumption compared to their neighbors (a social nudge). We then monitored households’ electricity-use to see if we could detect any changes.

Overall we estimated a 1.4 percent reduction in energy-use as a result of the feedback treatment. This figure increased to a 3.9 percent reduction when the sample was restricted to households that received low-user status during the pre-treatment period. Low-users also appeared to react to the social nudge, however, the reaction depended on whether the household had received an HER indicating that it consumed above- or below- average the week before. Time-of-day analysis suggested that the majority of the changes in electricity-use behavior occurred during evening and night hours.


First Advisor

Christine Crago

Second Advisor

John Spraggon