Behavioural experiment reduced electricity consumption

An experiment through behavioural design in reducing electricity consumption has given positive results with power bills coming down by 1.33 per cent at a few housing societies in Mumbai.

“Nearly 25 % of Indians have no access to electricity, and many electricity-enabled areas suffer from rolling blackouts,” said Anand Damani from Briefcase, the firm into behavioural designs.

Explaining the six month-long experiment conducted in 98 households across posh residential societies in Bandra-Khar, Damani said, “Permission of the secretary of each residential society was taken to conduct the experiment. We collected the households’ electricity bills before they reached each member’s house. We then calculated the average bill amount in that particular society. Lets say the average was Rs1,022. For all above average users, we put a stamp stating that the average in that society is Rs1,022. Next to their above average amount, we put a frown expression indicating that they could do better. The bills that were below average were delivered without any intervention. The households were not informed about this experiment.”

As human behaviour is contagious, a person usually behaves the way people around him/her does. The information or the frowning expression on the bill allowed the above-average users know how much their neighbours were consuming. Therefore, a social norm was being set by making them conscious and getting them to reduce their power consumption.

The outcome was that the average reduction in unit consumption by above-average users was 1.33 per cent compared to an average increase of 6.02 per cent in unit consumption by non-stamped users.

This behavioural study was conducted based on one done in San Marcos California by Robert Cialdini.

Source: DNA India

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