Motivating Residents to Conserve Energy Without Financial Incentives

McMakin, A., Malone, E., & Lundgren, R. (2002). Motivating residents to conserve energy without financial incentives. Environment and Behavior, 34(6), 848-863.

Given the aim to motivate people to conserve energy in homes, we need to understand what drives people's energy use behavior and how it can be influenced. This article describes applied energy conservation campaigns at two US military installations where residents do not pay their own utility bills. Customized approaches were designed for each installation based on a broad social-psychological model. Before-and-after energy use was measured, and 1,406 residents were surveyed about end use behaviors. Residents said they were motivated by the desire to do the right thing, set good examples for their children, and have comfortable homes. For sustained change, respondents recommended continued awareness and education, disincentives, and incentives. Findings support some aspects of a social-psychological model, with emphasis on altruistic and egoistic motives for behavioral change. These studies may have implications for situations where residents are not billed for individual energy use, including other government-subsidized facilities, master-metered apartments, and university dormitories.

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