Giving people information about how much gas or electricity their neighbours use encourages them to use less energy, research shows.
People are also more motivated to use less gas or electricity if they think those who live near them care about saving the environment. The findings of the study could prove useful to energy providers and policy-makers as they work to help customers and citizens save energy.
Dr Oliver Hauser of the University of Exeter Business School, one of the two lead authors of the study, said: “Many of us generally agree that reducing energy consumption is needed to help the environment and save our planet — but we have found to make it happen, we need to believe that others care about it too. People believe, rightly or wrongly, that a majority of those around them know what’s right—and they are afraid that they might be told off if they behave in a different way.”
Jon Jachimowicz of Columbia Business School, the other lead author of the study, said: “We found that when people believe their neighbours cared about energy conservation, they were more likely to subsequently save energy. This shows it is not only what most other people are doing that matters to us, but also whether we believe they care about this particular behaviour.”
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