STUDY | 
Environment
 BEHAVIOR CHANGE

Feedback on household electricity consumption.

Fischer (2008)
Summary by 
Mark Egan

The author describes a psychological model that seeks to explain what kind of feedback about energy-efficient goods will lead to reduced consumption. The author tentatively posits that the most successful feedback combines these features; (1) it’s given frequently and over a long time, (2) it provides an appliance-specific breakdown, (3) it’s presented in a clear and appealing way and (4) it uses computerized, interactive tools.

Improved feedback on electricity consumption may provide a tool for customers to better control their consumption and ultimately save energy. This paper asks which kind of feedback is most successful. For this purpose, a psychological model is presented that illustrates how and why feedback works. Relevant features of feedback are identified that may determine its effectiveness: frequency, duration, content, breakdown, medium and way of presentation, comparisons, and combination with other instruments. The paper continues with an analysis of international experience in order to find empirical evidence for which kinds of feedback work best. In spite of considerable data restraints and research gaps, there is some indication that the most successful feedback combines the following features: it is given frequently and over a long time, provides an appliance-specific breakdown, is presented in a clear and appealing way, and uses computerized and interactive tools.