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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Information Strategies and Energy Conservation Behavior: A Meta-analysis of Experimental Studies from 1975-2012


Strategies that provide information about the environmental impact of activities are increasingly seen as effective to encourage conservation behavior. This article offers the most comprehensive meta-analysis of information based energy conservation experiments conducted to date. Based on evidence from 156 published field trials and 525,479 study subjects from 1975 to 2012, we quantify the energy savings from information based strategies. On average, individuals in the experiments reduced their electricity consumption by 7.4%. Our results also show that strategies providing individualized audits and consulting are comparatively more effective for conservation behavior than strategies that provide historical, peer comparison energy feedback. Interestingly, we find that pecuniary feedback and incentives lead to a relative increase in energy usage rather than induce conservation. We also find that the conservation effect diminishes with the rigor of the study, indicating potential methodological issues in the current literature.

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