Customer Water Use Messaging (2015)

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Summary

Water and energy utilities have historically relied on financial incentives and information dissemination to help customers conserve resources. We are beginning to recognize these actions alone are not enough to motivate consumers to change behaviors. In recent years there have been surges in non-price interventions using behavioral economics that lead consumers to conserve energy. Although many of the behavioral concepts have been implemented in different areas in order to “nudge” consumers to change behavior where they can increase their health, wealth, etc., stakeholders in the energy, and more recently, water markets have started to adopt this new and alternative approach. These social norms messaging programs seem to offer promising ways to affect and reduce resource use among consumers, especially when customers are shown their energy (or water) use is out of alignment with their perceptions, and more importantly, similar households. Recognizing that there are very few studies, pilots or experimentations implemented in water markets, indicates that there is greater opportunity to implement various behavioral concepts in different settings in order to understand what drives consumers’ water consumption behavior and how it can be influenced.

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