Policymakers are increasingly concerned about how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One proposed solution is to send households an energy report that compares their energy use to that of their neighbors and provides them information about conservation techniques.
To study the effectiveness of these reports, J-PAL affiliate Hunt Allcott (NYU) and Todd Rogers (Harvard) looked at the impact of energy reports from a company called Opower. The randomized evaluation compared monthly electric meter readings in households receiving reports and control group households to estimate the effect of the mailings on energy consumption.
The researchers found that the home energy reports reduced household energy consumption by about 2 percent across twelve utilities. The reports had the strongest effect in the short-run, but the program had enduring effects among households that were dropped from the program after two years.
Study Cited: Alcott, Hunt and Todd Rogers. 2014. “The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation.” American Economic Review: 104(10): 3003-3037.