Jan Aceti Brookline Nov 28, 2009 19:33 pm

As one of the individuals with responsibility for preparing cases for the case study section of the Fostering Sustainable Behavior website, I am delighted to inform you that a new case, "Using Social Norms to Reduce Household Energy Consumption," is now available. For your review, a summary of the case follows, as well as a link for accessing the full case study.

In a small-scale project conducted in San Marcos, CA, and in a much larger-scale project carried out by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, information was delivered to households in order to foster norms that support reduced electricity consumption. The information allowed households to compare their own electricity usage with the average amount of electricity consumed by households like their own. The San Marcos results revealed that households using less electricity than average increased their consumption after receiving the comparative information, whereas higher-than-average users decreased theirs. The key to motivating the lower-than-average electricity users to maintain their low-consumption behavior was to print a happy face on the comparative information they received, conveying approval of their energy-conserving ways. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District found that when delivered to households on an ongoing basis, this type of information led to a sustained reduction in electricity consumption of over 2 percent.

To read the full case study, go to:


Jan Aceti
Aceti Associates
United States