Study on energy-saving behaviour to be presented at IAEE Conference


18 - 21 June | FRS research on 'The Relevance of Social Reference Points for Energy-Saving Behaviour' will be presented at the 40th IAEE International Conference themed 'Meeting the Energy Demands of Emerging Economies: Implications for Energy and Environmental Markets'.

FRS principal investigator Prof Renate Schubert will be presenting a study on 'The relevance of social reference points for energy-saving behaviour: Evidence from a field experiment in Singapore' at the 40th IAEE International Conference.

Organised by the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) and Energy Studies Institute at NUS, the conference is themed 'Meeting the Energy Demands of Emerging Economies: Implications for Energy and Environmental Markets' this year.

At the Future Resilient Systems, Prof Schubert, alongside professors from NTU and NUS, leads a team of researchers working on Making Energy Demand More Sustainable and Resilient. The module investigates what factors shape energy-efficient purchase and usage behaviour, as well as evaluate the effects of instruments on energy-efficient behaviour based on a set of outcome benefits and disservices, such as the tendency to offset the beneficial effects (rebound effects).

At this conference, drawing evidence from a field experiment conducted in Singapore, Prof Schubert will illustrate how social reference points can influence one's tendency towards energy-saving behaviour.

It turns out that closer reference points are more influential than reference points that are far away. Individuals who receive feedback that their close neighbours or friends are saving more electricity than them will increase their energy-saving efforts. Yet, one has to pay attention to the “boomerang effect”, i.e. feedback should be framed such that households with lower energy consumption than their close friends will not increase consumption after receiving feedback.

The insights from this study could be relevant for designing feedback information developed by utility suppliers such as Singapore Power, based on the premise that increasing feedback on very close social reference points increases the effectiveness of such feedback on energy consumption.

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