The Effect of Feedback and Social Reinforcement on Residential Electricity Consumption

Richard Katzev
Laura Cooper
Pat Fisher

DOI: 10.2190/M8W4-JUYV-NB03-CUFL


This experiment explored the effect of informational feedback in reducing electrical energy consumption with eleven matched quads of all-electric apartments in Portland, Oregon. Feedback about KWH usage was provided from electrical meter readings during baseline, treatment and follow-up phases during the summer of 1977. Following a two week baseline period, apartments were exposed to one of the following conditions: (1) No treatment Control; (2) Daily Contingent Feedback, where informational feedback about KWH usage was provided on a daily basis; (3) Three Day Contingent Feedback Plus Decal, where feedback was provided every third day and commendation in the form of a decal was presented for reduced consumption; (4) Three Day Noncontingent Feedback Plus Decal, where feedback plus commendation were provided every third day, regardless of whether or not electricity consumption had decreased. Each of these feedback conditions had very little impact on electrical energy consumption during the two week treatment or the two week follow-up periods. These findings were viewed as consistent with other research which has also documented the limited impact of feedback on energy consumption. An analysis of the boundary conditions for the effectiveness of informational feedback stimuli was presented.

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