The Effect of Tailored Information, Goal Setting, and Tailored Feedback on Household Energy Use, Energy-Related Behaviors, and Behavioral Antecedents

Abrahamse, W., Steg, L., Vlek, C., & Rothengatter, T. (2007). The effect of tailored information, goal setting, and tailored feedback on household energy use, energy-related behaviors, and behavioral antecedents. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 27(4), 265-276.

In this multidisciplinary study, an Internet-based tool was used to encourage households (N = 189) to reduce their direct (gas, electricity and fuel) and indirect energy use (embedded in the production, transportation and disposal of consumer goods). A combination of tailored information, goal setting (5%), and tailored feedback was used. The purpose of this study was to examine whether this combination of interventions would result in (i) changes in direct and indirect energy use, (ii) changes in energy-related behaviors, and (iii) changes in behavioral antecedents (i.e. knowledge). After 5 months, households exposed to the combination of interventions saved 5.1%, while households in the control group used 0.7% more energy. Households exposed to the interventions saved significantly more direct energy than households in the control group did. No difference in indirect energy savings emerged. Households exposed to the interventions adopted a number of energy-saving behaviors during the course of the study, whereas households in the control group did so to a lesser extent. Households exposed to the interventions had significantly higher knowledge levels of energy conservation than the control group had. It is argued that if the aim is to effectively encourage household energy conservation, it is necessary to examine changes in energy use, energy-related behaviors and behavioral antecedents.

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