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THE DYNAMICS OF BEHAVIOR CHANGE:EVIDENCE FROM ENERGY CONSERVATION

  • Author(s): Asensio, Omar I
  • Delmas, Magali A
  • et al.
Abstract

Little is known about the effect of message framing on conservation behavior over time. In a randomized controlled trial with residential households, we use advanced metering and information technologies to test how different messages about household energy use impact thedynamics of conservation behavior down to the appliance level. Our results, based on 374 million panel observations of kilowatt-hour (kWh) electricity consumption for 118 householdsover 9 months, show that differences in behavioral responses due to message framing become more significant over time. We find that a health-based frame, in which households consider thehuman health effects of their marginal electricity use, induced persistent energy savings behavior of 8-10% over 100 days; whereas a more traditional cost savings frame, drove sharp attenuationof treatment effects after 2 weeks with no significant savings versus control after 7 weeks. We discuss implications for the design of effective information campaigns to engage households inconservation behavior.

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