Feedback as a Means of Decreasing Residential Energy Consumption

Seligman, C., & Darley, J. M. (1977). Feedback as a means of decreasing residential energy consumption. Journal of Applied Psychology, 62, 4, 363-368.

Tested the hypothesis that providing immediate feedback to homeowners concerning their daily rate of electricity usage would be effective in reducing electricity consumption. In the 29 physically identical 3-bedroom homes used in the study, central air conditioning was the largest single source of electricity usage during the summer. Accordingly, it was possible to predict the household's expected electricity consumption in terms of the average daily outdoor temperature. Feedback was expressed as a percentage of actual consumption over predicted consumption, and it was displayed to the homeowners 4 times/wk for approximately 1 mo. Results confirm the hypothesis. Before feedback began, the feedback and control groups were consuming electricity at approximately equal rates. During the feedback period, the feedback group used 10.5% less electricity. The effectiveness of the feedback procedure is discussed in terms of its cuing, motivational, and commitment functions.

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