Reducing Residential Water Consumption with Feedback in Melbourne, Australia

Aitken, C. K., McMahon, T. A., Wearing, A. J. & Finlayson, B. L. (1994). Residential water use: Predicting and reducing consumption. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 24, 2, 136-158.

Since residential water use is quite high in Melbourne, Australia, a pilot program was designed to lower consumption. First, a literature review was conducted to identify behavior change tools effective in reducing water use. Therefore, feedback and cognitive dissonance were incorporated into the pilot program. Households were initially contacted through a mailed questionnaire. Then, experimenters hand delivered cards which reminded the recipients of the completion of the questionnaire and their agreement with conservation responsibility statements. In addition, feedback was given on these cards as well. The feedback gave the average consumption of the participant's household as well as an artificially low average of a household of similar size. Data were collected through water meter readings.


Although households who already exhibit low water use did not reduce consumption substantially, feedback and dissonance did have a positive effect on high consumption households. These households reduced their water use by 4.3%.

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