Reduction of Residential Consumption of Electricity Through Simple Monthly Feedback

Hayes, Steven C., Cone, John D., Reduction of residential consumption of electricity through simple monthly feedback. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1981, 14, 81-88.

Researchers used feedback to reduce and control electricity consumption by implementing an economically feasible program of monthly feedback. Participants in the feedback group were sent a letter each month stating the percent change in consumption compared to the same month both one and two years ago. The letter also showed the amount of money saved or lost and the difference in kilowatt-hours. The letters arrived a few days after the utility bill every month. Individuals were unaware that they were participating in a study. They simply began to receive the letters. The control group was never contacted and their consumption information was simply gathered from the meter.


The researchers found that electricity was reduced by 4.7% when households received the feedback letter. The results of this study demonstrate the effectiveness and practicality of this form of feedback. In total, approximately $16 was spent on this project, which is substantially less than other methods of attempting to reduce electricity such as advertisements and monetary payments.

Prepared by: Erin Duncan and Jennifer Parker

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