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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Information Strategies for Energy Conservation: A Field Experiment in India, 2017


Little is known about the effectiveness of information strategies on energy conservation in developing countries. In this study, we conduct a field experiment in an apartment complex in India to test how information about electricity usage impacts the electricity consumption of urban middle class households. Our results, based on fifteen-minute electricity readings over an academic year, show that nonmonetary messages that framed electricity consumption in terms of environmental and health impacts were more effective than messages emphasizing the monetary savings of reducing electricity consumption. Households in the environmental/health group accessed the online energy-monitoring dashboard more frequently and reduced their electricity usage by 18.4% relative to the control group. Households in the monetary group did not significantly alter their usage. These results about revealed preferences are contrasted with stated preferences disclosed in a survey of urban Indians who describe money, not health, as the main motivation for energy conservation. Our findings have important implications for the development non-monetary strategies for energy conservation in developing countries.

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