- Facilitating: Change the default temperature setting of available heating schedules
- Deceive: Visualize the environmental consequences of non-efficient actions (e.g. overheating)
- Social Influence: Comparison with similar households in the same neighborhood, city, etc.
- We need to better understand all those factors that determine the consumers behaviour and the decisions they make about energy consumption matters,
- Since the 1970s, monetary or in-kind incentives (e.g. discount plans and bonuses) have been used as motivation for affecting consumption decisions,
- Recent studies have identified ways in which behaviour can be affected without resorting to financial provisions or incentives of any kind,
- By far the most influential of these studies, the work of Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in 2008 introduced the notion of Nudging, as: “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any option or significantly changing their economic incentives”.
First used by public authorities to improve the welfare of society, now nudges are more widely spread in diverse areas such as health, transport, taxation, finance, while the implications of nudging techniques for policy design have been explored extensively, also at the highest possible governmental level both in the US and UK.
Nudging is a soft push, that can make people act or react — and consume less energy — because they are told their neighbours or peers do so for instance or by changing the default settings of energy devices.
Examples and instances
Nudges may be classified into six categories:
Nudges that facilitate desirable behaviours by diminishing the physical or mental effort of individuals.
Nudges that seek to prevent an unwanted behaviour by instilling doubt about it.
Nudges that draw on humans’ desire to comply with what they perceive as others’ expectations from them.
Nudges that attempt to generate fear and uncertainty.
Nudges that reinforce behaviours.
Nudges that favour desirable behaviours by deceiving users’ perception about alternatives.
Instances of all six categories of nudges, together with other types of interventions, will be designed and tested in the NUDGE project. To this aim, a set of five heterogeneous trials (also referred to as pilots) have been carefully selected to demonstrate effective interventions in various scenarios of energy consumption.
The pilots feature widespread geographical coverage across different EU states (Greece, Belgium, Portugal, Germany and Croatia) and build on pre-existing consumer communities with population much bigger than the population expected to participate in the planned activities (direct participants).
|Example nudge relevant to the project
|Change the preset option
|Consent is opt-in instead of opt-out
|Consent to automated management or switch to manual
|Suggest alternatives for decisions
|Personalized push notifications through the apps
|Throttling mindless activity
|Implement time buffer between decision and action
|Provide time buffer before a non-energy efficient setting is activated
|Reminding of consequences
|Provide information on consequences of actions between decision and action
|Prompting users through personalized messages, right before taking an action
Social Influence Nudges
|Leveraging public commitment
|Let people formulate a certain (public) commitment
|Prompt users to follow individual targets for a period and remind them to follow their commitment (Goal setting)
|Raise the visibility of user's action
|Make actions of users visible to others
|Quantify the impact of energy decisions on own energy bill or in a combined dashboard with others
|Enabling social comparisons
|Compare behavior with family, community, friends, etc. visible
|Comparison chart with social community (family, neighbours, classmates)
|Create perception of scarcity
|Inform that free PV energy will be available for 2 more hours
|Provide discount now instead of on the long run
|Provide discount on installing monitoring equipment, so that they can save energy later
|Point out desired behavior at a suitable time
|Identify changes in the context (temperature setting) and prompt the user on time
|Provoke feelings of compassion to stimulate desired behavior
|Environmental impact highlighted through examples to create emotions of compassion
|Create optical illusions that alter people's perceptions and judgments
|Visualizing the non-energy efficient choices impact through dramatic visualizations