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Energy Use: The Human Dimension (1984)

Chapter:4: Individuals and Households as Energy Users

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Suggested Citation:"4: Individuals and Households as Energy Users." National Research Council. 1984. Energy Use: The Human Dimension. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9259.
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Suggested Citation:"4: Individuals and Households as Energy Users." National Research Council. 1984. Energy Use: The Human Dimension. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9259.
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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 55 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, 4 and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Individuals and Households as Energy Users Individuals and households use about one-third of the nation’s energy for space heating and cooling, transportation, and various household uses. In addition, they influence an even larger portion of energy use indirectly through their purchase decisions, which partly determine the amount of energy used in producing consumer goods and services. To understand energy demand, one must understand the energy-using behavior of individuals and households. This book approaches understanding energy users differently from most previous studies. As we have noted, most past analyses have derived from a conception of energy as a commodity. Since energy use, in this view, is a type of consumer behavior, it is no surprise that most analyses of energy use have applied the dominant theory of consumer behavior—the theory of rational choice. These analyses have assumed that energy users—both individuals and organizations— are “rational”; that is, that they act in their own self-interest to maximize some objective function. The most common assumption about individuals and households is that they act to maximize the value of consumer goods and services acquired within their budgets. The most common assumption about firms is that they, or their managers, act to maximize profits. In the public sector, the most common assumption is that agencies try to maximize size, which means number of employees, number of programs or offices, and budget. For a “rational” decision maker, energy decisions are like any other decisions. Energy conservation will occur when a person, firm, or agency expects to save more than a dollar per dollar spent. Even in this dominant view of energy consumption, it is acknowledged that energy users do not always take the actions that will benefit them

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 56 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, most. Such behavior is usually attributed to short-term energy price fluctuations, to time lags in adjustment, to the unavailability of complete information to guide and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. decisions, or to impediments to market functioning, such as the presence of price controls on energy, the existence of regulated utilities, and the prevalence of situations such as rental housing, where purchasers of efficient energy-using equipment do not benefit from the investment.1 It follows from this argument that government action can make the energy system more efficient by removing impediments to market functioning, providing information, or offering incentives or penalties through tax policy, assistance programs, or through regulation. Such policies can shorten the time it takes for energy users to take actions that most benefit them. Despite some evident differences in energy policy among recent federal administrations, all have operated on the underlying assumption that when individuals or organizations use energy, they are making rational economic decisions aimed at maximizing some objective function. In the Ford and Carter administrations, this view provided the rationale for programs to inform citizens of the energy costs of major purchase decisions. It lay behind the Carter administration’s tax incentives to speed conversion to energy-efficient operation of homes and businesses and it helped justify the removal of oil price controls by the Carter and Reagan administrations. Such diverse governmental actions as low-income weatherization assistance, small “appropriate technology” grants, energy performance stanfor buildings, and even the elimination of these same programs have all been justified in terms of the assumption that energy users make economically rational decisions. While it may seem strange that the same basic assumption has been used to support opposing policies, the assumption remains useful for predicting and interpreting aggregate changes in energy use, and it has practical implications for policy. For example, the simple assumption of rationality correctly predicts that when oil prices rise relative to the prices of other fuels and of energy-efficient equipment, some energy users will switch from oil to other fuels, and some will invest in energy-efficient equipment. To cut oil use, then, the assumption of rationality suggests raising oil prices, and data from the United States and other industrialized nations show that this policy is effective (e.g., Marlay, 1982; Schipper and Ketoff, 1982). Careful observation of individuals and organizations provides support for the importance of simple cost and return factors in the behavior of energy users. However, careful observation also makes it clear that other factors are involved. For example, in Chapter 3, we described how energy users may lack the knowledge to take advantage of information conveyed in energy prices and how they fail to act on information they distrust. There is other evidence that a variety of social, political, economic, and

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 57 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, personal influences are significant determinants of energy consumption.2 It has become a commonplace observation, for example, that different families of the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. same size occupying identical residences can vary in their energy use by a factor of two or more (Lundstrom, 1980; Sonderegger, 1978). Thus, the behavior of building occupants is often a major factor in the building’s energy consumption. Even more compelling is the fact, demonstrated in numerous careful studies, that energy-using behavior can be altered greatly while technological and economic factors remain constant. We describe here some examples related to residential energy use. Michael Pallak and his colleagues (Pallak, Cook, and Sullivan, 1980) showed that, all other things being equal, getting people to pay attention to their energy use led them to reduce consumption. They asked seventeen Iowa homeowners to participate in a study aimed at determining whether personal efforts could make much difference in saving energy. The researcher asked the homeowners to keep an “energy log” by noting their appliance use twice a day and reading their electric meters weekly. At the end of a month, these homeowners were using 13 percent less electricity than a group of sixteen control households that had agreed to participate but had not been asked to keep an energy log. The experiment officially ended at that point, but among the experimental households, the energy savings continued for almost a full year. More aggressive efforts to influence energy use make a bigger difference. Richard Winett and his colleagues (Winett, Hatcher, Fort, Leckliter, Love, Riley, and Fishback, 1982) combined knowledge of behavioral psychology and communication techniques into a carefully constructed package to teach and motivate householders to cut energy use in their all-electric apartments and townhouses without spending money on equipment and with minimal loss in comfort. Their experimental program featured twenty-minute videotape programs that showed a young couple acting as a model by taking energy-saving actions in their home. The videotape on summer energy savings, for example, demonstrated the proper use of fans and natural ventilation in the evening; ways to shift the time or place of activities such as cooking and eating to decrease the need for air conditioning; dressing in lightweight clothing; and so forth. The script was carefully constructed to present energy efficiency as a positive action rather than emphasizing conservation. Participants in the study all attended a fortyfive- minute meeting explaining the project at which they were given instructions in the proper use of window fans, information on the exact insulating value of different items of clothing, and information on how to use a hygrothermograph installed in their homes to monitor temperature and humidity. In addition, some of the participants were given daily feedback for thirty days on the amount of energy they were using. The group that saw the videotape cut total electricity consumption by 10 percent in comparison with a control group that only attended the

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 58 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, meeting. In a three-week follow-up after the experiment, the savings were 19 percent. These savings amounted to 26 and 63 percent, respectively, of the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. electricity used for air conditioning. This saving was accomplished with little or no change in indoor temperature and no change in residents’ comfort. When householders were given daily feedback on their rates of energy use, in addition to the videotape, their savings increased even further. In a parallel experiment with winter energy savings, the combination of videotapes and feedback produced a total savings of energy of more than 25 percent of the electricity used for heating. These studies demonstrate that social and psychological factors can make a sizable difference in residential energy use even when both economic incentives and the physical properties of the building are held constant. Of course, energy use depends not only on the habits of building occupants, but on levels of investment in insulation, energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, and other practical devices. The evidence is that most of the remaining potential for energy savings in the residential sector requires such investments.3 Furthermore, the level of investment in energy efficiency can be increased substantially by changing social and psychological conditions—with very little reliance on special financial incentives or penalties. For example, Stern, Black, and Elworth (1981, 1982a) studied a program in the Northeast that offered homeowners a combined package of home energy audits, assistance with financing, contact with certified contractors, and inspection of energy conservation work done on the home. The program was financed in part by a surcharge on the work done under contract, so the program did not provide its services at the lowest available cost to consumers. Nevertheless, 2,000 households—about one-quarter of those who requested its free energy audits— went on to have the recommended work done by the program. These homeowners made investments that will save them almost four times as much energy as will be saved by the investments of homeowners who did not participate in the program. In fact, even participants who received free energy audits and declined to have work done through the program reported making investments that will save twice as much energy as the comparison group.4 The most frequently given reasons for signing contracts with the program were distinctly nonfinancial: “I trusted the work because it would be inspected” (98 percent); “I didn’t have to worry about finding a reliable contractor” (96 percent); “The staff was very professional and trustworthy” (89 percent); “It was convenient to have them do the recommended work” (62 percent). In short, the program’s qualitative advantages, rather than simply the net financial benefit to be expected from energy efficiency, made a large difference in household behavior and in energy savings. Each of these studies demonstrates, in a different way, that nontechnical and noneconomic factors can have a major impact on energy use. Taken

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 59 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, together, the studies suggest that the human dimension may explain a significant proportion of what has been unknown about energy use in the United States. The and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. findings showed that householders’ behavior is not readily predicted from the notion of rational decision making. In Pallak’s research, energy was saved when people were induced to pay attention to information that was already available to them with little effort. Winett’s procedures combined new information with motivational techniques, fairly sophisticated use of media, and again, attention to information that was already available. The study by Stern and his colleagues showed that certain nonfinancial but significant features of a conservation program might make more difference to householders than an interest subsidy or other financial inducements. In none of these cases was household behavior “irrational,” but these studies showed that people often do not act in their economic self-interest, despite the availability of information sufficient for such action. The studies further suggest that there is considerable practical potential for residential energy savings without modifying existing economic incentives. Much of this potential can be realized by building on an empirically based knowledge of what actually is keeping energy users from taking actions that will benefit them. In the next section, we define five different views of energy users, each of which is supported by behavioral knowledge. This knowledge is then applied to our previous analysis of barriers to energy efficiency (Chapter 3) and to the problem of providing energy information to individuals and households. We identify some principles and offer some concrete suggestions for making energy information effective, and we present a detailed discussion of home energy audits as an example. FIVE VIEWS OF THE INDIVIDUAL AS ENERGY USER Energy User as Investor Energy users can be regarded as investors for whom energy has a cost that is carefully considered in making purchases of equipment that uses energy. User- investors consider such equipment as capital, in the sense that it is a durable good that produces a stream of economic benefits, such as reduced energy costs, over its useful life. Building or vehicle owners may also see the purchase of energy- saving equipment as an investment if they expect it will increase the resale value of a property. The view of an energy user as an investor is completely consistent with the assumption of economic rationality. Every individual may be seen as acting to maximize future disposable income. In theory, investments are based on stable preferences and on an analysis of the discounted future

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 60 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, value of energy expected to be used or saved. A family decision to exchange a large “gas guzzler” automobile for a new fuel-efficient subcompact car can be and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. regarded as an investment decision: for a capital investment of, say, $7,500 less trade-in, the family will be able to reduce its energy costs by a predictable annual amount. This sort of analysis underlies the practice of analyzing expenditures on energy-efficient technologies in terms of payback period or return on investment. There are many ways an energy user might calculate the expected outcome from an energy investment. Economists generally argue that the best, most accurate index is the internal rate of return. This index is the interest rate that would make the present value of the stream of benefits expected from the investment equal to the initial cost of the investment. It is considered best because it takes into account the fact that a dollar now would grow if invested, and because rate of return allows easy comparisons with the value of alternative investments. An internal rate of return, however, is difficult to calculate, since it is the sum of a mathematical series. It requires careful mathematics and uncommon patience—or a small computer. In fact, many economic analyses of energy-efficiency investments have used more simplified indices, such as the present-value, time-discounted cost-benefit ratio or the payback period. If the most accurate index of the value of an investment is difficult even for economists to use, it is not surprising that few ordinary energy users do these calculations. Individuals tend to quantify most household energy sources in dollars, rather than in energy units (Kempton and Montgomery, 1982). This difference in estimation procedures makes energy users behave very differently than an expert’s analysis would predict. Figure 3 shows two sets of calculations of a simple index of investment—the payback period from an investment that costs the equivalent of one year’s fuel cost and that cuts energy use by 30 percent. A payback period is the time it takes to recover the cost of investment through energy savings. The “expert model” shows that the initial cost of the investment is paid back faster if fuel prices increase, because more costly fuel is being saved. The “folk model,” by contrast, calculates savings in dollars compared to preinvestment expenditures. In this model, fuel price increases can quickly make a 30 percent fuel savings disappear because fuel bills return to their preinvestment levels. While this folk model may be demonstrably “irrational” in economic terms, it does follow logically from the method most commonly used by individuals to judge the effects of attempts to save energy. People who try to make rational calculations based on their own assumptions about energy would be led to make fewer energy-saving investments than an expert analyst would recommend. Not only would they interpret their investments as less effective than would an expert; they would also communicate this judgment to their friends. It is of little use to decry the unsophisticated

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 61 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Fig. 3 . Payback period as a function of fuel price escalation, as computed by a folk model and an expert model SOURCE: Kempton and Montgomery (1982) calculations made by the folk model: it approximates the ways most individuals calculate, if they calculate at all. More fundamentally, there is a problem with the very notion of users as investors. People do not see their purchases of energy and energy-using equipment only as investments; they have meanings unrelated to the cost of fuel. Car purchasers, for example, do not look solely at fuel efficiency. They are also concerned with performance, safety, styling, status considerations, and other factors. To take another example, decisions about home improvements can have major implications for household energy use. The homeowner may view these decisions as economic investments, in the sense that home improvements may have a continuing benefit by reducing operating costs, but they also have implications that do not easily translate into return on investment. They may increase comfort, provide more space or light, or improve the appearance of the home. Thus, when a homeowner considers reinsulating or replacing a working furnace, that choice is competing against unlike alternatives—another bathroom, a picture window,

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 62 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, new living-room furniture, and so forth. People do not usually weigh the potential value of the energy saved by one purchase against the pleasure, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. convenience, or status achievable by alternative purchases. People are not likely to treat energy efficiency strictly as investment when they are not likely to consider the alternatives to energy efficiency as investments. In households, other important energy decisions are made when furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, and other equipment wear out. Such decisions may be made under time pressure and with only partial information, with quick replacement a more pressing issue than life-cycle energy costs. Although those decisions may affect energy use for years or even decades, the purchaser may see them as repair, not investment, decisions. Seen as a repair, a $200 water heater will be viewed as costing less than a $300 water heater—even though the latter is better insulated and consumes $25 less in energy each year. In addition, there are the serious difficulties that are involved in any effort to find complete information. As already noted, many important decisions about energy use are made by intermediaries who are not the ultimate users of energy-using equipment. These intermediaries include developers of residential and commercial buildings and operators of automobile rental agencies. In these cases, the investors do not pay for the energy used. The investors’ concerns have to do with ultimate sale or lease of a product that is competing with similar products. For example, in new multihousehold residences, electric resistance heating is often installed to keep down the price of construction of the building, to shift responsibility for heating to the occupants, and to let the building owner escape the various management problems associated with central heating. Decisions about what appliances to install in a new building are often based more on visual appeal than on life-cycle cost. While these are certainly investment decisions, future energy costs are not involved since they will be paid by someone other than the person who makes the investment decision. Thus, the investor is relatively unconcerned with energy consumption, and the energy user is uninvolved in purchasing the durable goods that might be seen as an investment. For all these reasons, to view energy users as only investors leads to an inaccurate account of individual behavior, even with respect to capital goods. Other views of energy users are often more applicable. Energy User as Consumer In another view, individuals think of their homes and automobiles as consumer goods, that is, as providing necessities and pleasures. Energy-using activities and equipment are purchased for the value of using them. Once purchased, they require money primarily to maintain or increase their ability to provide necessities and pleasures and only secondarily to increase their economic value. This view might offer an explanation of the

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 63 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, fact that home improvement loans are taken out much more frequently for room additions or new siding than for reinsulation or new and improved furnaces. The and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. former expenditures give owners pleasure or tangibly add to a home’s appearance, in addition to their economic benefits; the latter are unseen and mainly save money. Among energy investments, the usual preference for storm windows rather than wall insulation may reflect the same phenomenon: storm windows are attractive, cut down on street noise, and may decrease the physical effort of home upkeep; insulation offers a faster return on investment, but it lacks these consumer benefits. This view of the energy user can be consistent with an assumption of rational action if people are assumed to act to maximize some subjective quality —what economists call a utility function. The usefulness of an assumption of rationality for predicting behavior would then depend on empirical knowledge of such utility functions and on a demonstration that they are based on reasonably stable preferences. Such evidence is lacking, so the view of the energy user as consumer is described here as a heuristic rather than a formal model. Energy Consumer as Member of a Social Group Homes and automobiles also may have social meaning. They express membership in a community or attainment of a certain status in society. In youth, the keys to the family car symbolize attaining adult status; a home in the suburbs often symbolizes career success. And that home must be acceptable in appearance to the friends, neighbors, or co-workers—or the homeowner risks loss of status and rejection. As a local energy manager remarked to a member of the committee: “I’m committed to saving energy and I know plastic sheeting over my windows would have a fast payback, but I wouldn’t dream of putting plastic on my house. My neighbors would kill me.” Energy considerations almost always take second place when they are in conflict with strong social pressures. Social group memberships are also important as sources of innovation and of energy information. A homeowner may get the idea to install a clock thermostat from seeing one in a friend’s or neighbor’s home; the decisive information about whether the investment is a good one may come from the experiences of that friend or neighbor. When this happens, the action is most accurately described by the metaphor of social contagion, even if the individual rationalizes his or her action in terms of expected financial return. Since such action is not the outcome of detailed search for information and may not produce the maximum expected benefit, it is not rational in the formal sense. It may not even approximate formal rationality—individuals may rely on sources that can add no accurate information whatever. Still, reliance on word-of-mouth information from

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 64 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, friends or associates may be a sensible strategy under some circumstances, such as when more formally prepared information is conflicting and untrustworthy. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Energy Consumption as Expression of Personal Values Individuals use or conserve energy in ways consistent with their personal ideals or their self-images. For some, central air conditioning may be an important expression of a value of comfortable and gracious living. For others, solar collectors on the roof may express values of self-reliance or environmental preservation. There is evidence of important variations in energy-related values. When presented with a choice between energy and environmental values, for example, women and younger people usually express greater preference for environmental protection than men and older people (Farhar, Weis, Unseld, and Burns, 1979). This may be significant because environmental concern has an effect on energy- related behavior (Black, 1978; Stern, Black, and Elworth, 1982b, 1983; Verhallen and van Raaij, 1981).5 The age difference with respect to environmental values may be particularly important in the future. If environmental concern among the young is a reflection of the increased importance of environmental issues during their formative years, the data may portend increasing importance of environmental values as an influence on energy consumption. Energy User as Problem Avoider According to the view of energy users as problem avoiders, people usually take energy use for granted and treat it as no more than a potential source of annoyance or inconvenience. Nothing is done about energy until the furnace breaks down, a power outage or a gasoline shortage occurs, or there is such a sharp rise in the price of energy as to command immediate attention either because of the change itself or because energy becomes a more significant portion of the budget. In this view, attention is a scarce resource. People do not change their energy-use patterns until some threshold of annoyance is passed. At that point, they respond, and that behavioral response continues until some new and pressing problem appears to change behavior again. Behavior typically is haphazard and oriented toward short-term avoidance of inconvenience, perhaps guided by hearsay, rule of thumb, “what worked last time,” or other unsystematic influences. This view implies that people will not take energy-saving action if this action involves significant inconvenience or disruption to household routines. A paper by Penz (1981) contains a detailed anecdotal account of the process of deciding about home insulation and is convincing on this

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 65 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, point. Penz followed numerous false leads from the telephone Yellow Pages and other sources, spoke with unresponsive retailers and utilities, and went through and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. the exhausting process of calling unknown contractors and comparing their recommendations, their bids, and his impressions of their competence. The prospect of all this effort, no doubt, is sufficient deterrent for many homeowners.6 Householders sometimes try to avoid problems like this by a strategy of relying on a single trusted source for energy advice and services. But reliance on a heating oil delivery company, a furnace repairman, or a handy neighbor may not be the best way to get energy services at the lowest cost because the trusted source may not be expert in the relevant area. Worse, the source may have an interest that conflicts with the energy user’s. But the alternative of searching for accurate information and reliable service providers in the present energy environment is perceived as an extremely onerous task. As a result, many people are willing to trade the likelihood of saving on some energy costs for the sense that they have done something to improve their situation and the assurance that they are avoiding a major loss or ridding themselves of an annoyance.7 A good example of this consumer strategy can be found in the study by Stern and his colleagues (1981), already mentioned, of a comprehensive residential conservation program in the Northeast. Among program participants, the reasons most often given for signing contracts with the program reflected issues of risk avoidance and convenience. These reasons are most readily interpreted in terms of a motive to avoid problems, especially the very costly ones that may result from unsatisfactory work by contractors. The notion of avoiding problems also includes difficulties that arise among household members. It is tempting to think of a household acting as a unit, but this view is not always accurate. If an effort to cut energy use involves arguments about thermostat settings, or negotiation over who will use an automobile, or nagging children to turn off appliances, take short showers, and the like, a great many people will quickly revert to their previous patterns of energy use. SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PROCESSES AFFECTING ENERGY USERS The five views of energy users are presented not to argue that one is superior, but because there are elements of truth in each. It is appropriate to consider the conditions under which each view furnishes useful insights about how energy users behave. The following discussion elaborates on some of the processes that lead energy users to behave as other than investors.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 66 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, Interpersonal Influence and Imitation We have already described the environment in which energy users function. In and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. many ways, it is the sort of environment in which interpersonal influences are likely to have especially strong effects on individual behavior. In particular, energy prices have been changing rapidly and unpredictably, creating a high degree of uncertainty. Decades of experimental research have demonstrated that in such an uncertain environment, the ideas and actions of other people have a heightened effect on individual judgment and behavior (e.g., Latané and Darley, 1970; Sherif, 1935). We have also noted that information about energy is conflicting, and many of the usual sources of information are not generally trusted. In such an information system, expertise is seen as unreliable, and the need for credible information leads people to reliance on trustworthy sources, even if they are less expert. Given this confusing environment, it is to be expected that social influences, especially the influence of peers, will be important determinants of energy use. The view of energy users as members of social groups should have increased applicability here, and data about influences on behavior in social groups will be relevant to energy use. Imitation. Simple imitation is one form of influence. An illustration is provided by Aronson and O’Leary (1983), who demonstrated in a university building how this form of influence can induce people to modify a routine habit—taking a shower—in a manner that conserves energy. Even though an overwhelming majority of students using the shower room knew that taking short showers saves energy—and even though a prominent sign on the wall reminded them to keep showers short and to turn off the water while soaping up—only 6 percent of the students took the recommended steps to conserve hot water. When the researchers made the sign obtrusive, short showers increased to 19 percent. But many students were offended by the intrusiveness of the sign: some expressed anger verbally, a few knocked over the sign, and some expressed their hostility by taking unusually long showers. The researchers next used students who served as models by turning off the water and soaping up whenever someone came in to use the facility. When this strategy was used, the number of people turning off the water to soap up climbed to 49 percent; with two people simultaneously modeling the behavior it rose to 67 percent. Imitation can be a potent influence even on more significant energy-related activities. As we already noted, videotaped demonstrations by people acting as models of energy-saving behavior were a central feature in the highly effective experimental program developed by Winett and his associates at Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Winett et al., 1982; Ester and Winett, 1982). Their data indicate that information alone is of limited value; imitation was crucial to the magnitude of the effect.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 67 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, Simple imitation has its limits, of course, even when the influence of models is made more available through videotape technology. Although imitation has and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. proven effective with simple behaviors, it seems unlikely that a videotape program will lead many to adopt such expensive measures as installing insulation in walls or purchasing fuel-efficient water heaters. These sorts of actions are more likely to be influenced by direct communication with friends and associates. Communication. The power of influence by interpersonal communication, rather than by experts or media appeals, has been documented for a great many years. Consider the history of the agricultural extension program in the United States. During the 1930s the federal government attempted to disseminate information about improved agricultural practices. At first the government tried to persuade farmers by distributing pamphlets filled with important information in the form of tables, charts, and statistics. This information campaign was a dismal failure. Subsequently, a demonstration project was set up in which government agents worked side by side with farmers on a few selected farms. When neighboring farmers saw the size of the demonstration harvest and discussed the methods that were used, they quickly adopted the new techniques (Nisbett et al., 1976). This sort of personal influence process has been documented repeatedly and has recently been shown to operate among energy consumers. In studies of residential adoption of energy-conserving practices and of solar energy equipment, Dorothy Leonard-Barton (1980, 1981a) found that interpersonal sources of communication are considered most important both by adopters and nonadopters of the equipment. This finding is typical: while media sources may be most effective for letting people know a new technology exists, personal sources are more influential in the decision to adopt the innovation (e.g., Katz, 1961). In Leonard-Barton’s research, the best predictor of intention to purchase solar equipment was found to be the number of solar owners that a potential adopter knows. This finding exemplifies the general principle that certain people —particularly those with knowledge and experience and extensive social contacts—act as informal opinion leaders to influence others (Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955). In a study of the adoption of energy conservation equipment, Darley (1978) found that the adoption of a newly developed clock thermostat spread from the people who first used it to their friends, colleagues, and co- workers. The spread was along lines of communication, not through mere physical proximity; neighbors were not usually the next to try the new equipment. The experiences of family, friends, and colleagues are influential for several reasons. First, as we have mentioned, the uncertainty in the energy environment and the lack of trust in formal information sources enhance the influence of people who are well known and trusted. Friends are

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 68 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, trustworthy sources of information; at the least, their biases and values are known, and can be taken into account. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Second, when a friend or colleague adopts some energy innovation, for example, a solar water heater or the practice of car pooling, that adoption represents a vicarious experiment for the person who sees or hears about the effort and its results. Research on the diffusion of innovation demonstrates that people are more likely to adopt a new idea or technology if they can try it on a small scale without fully committing themselves to it (Rogers with Shoemaker, 1971); a friend’s experience can act as such a trial. Third, information from close associates is salient—it stands out from the mass of available information and attracts attention. Part of this effect of salience (Taylor and Fiske, 1978) is due to people weighing information in proportion to its vividness (Nisbett et al., 1976; Borgida and Nisbett, 1977; Hamill et al., 1980). The experience of a friend or acquaintance may yield a vivid demonstration, not just a vicarious experiment, of what one might expect from adopting the innovation oneself. Impersonal data summaries, even from large numbers of cases, have been shown to have less impact than vivid face-to-face interactions and detailed case studies. Vividly presented information stands out from other information and is more likely to be noticed, remembered, and given weight in judgments (Taylor and Thompson, 1982).8 The experience of someone one knows well, combined with the opportunity to hear the experience firsthand, exerts an influence far greater than its status as additional information. This is true even if the friend’s experience is atypical. A study by Nisbett and his colleagues offers this example (Nisbett, Borgida, Crandall, and Reed, 1976:129): Let us suppose that you wish to buy a new car and have decided that on grounds of economy and longevity you want to purchase one of those solid, stalwart, middle-class Swedish cars—either a Volvo or a Saab. As a prudent and sensible buyer, you go to Consumer Reports, which informs you that the consensus of their experts is that the Volvo is mechanically superior, and the consensus of the readership is that the Volvo has the better repair record. Armed with this information, you decide to go and strike a bargain with the Volvo dealer before the week is out. In the interim, however, you go to a cocktail party where you announce this intention to an acquaintance. He reacts with disbelief and alarm: “A Volvo! You’ve got to be kidding. My brother-in-law had a Volvo. First, that fancy fuel injection computer thing went out. 250 bucks. Next he started having trouble with the rear end. Had to replace it. Then the transmission and the clutch. Finally sold it in three years for junk. If the data in Consumer Reports were based on 1,000 cases, the information you received at the cocktail party has now increased the sample to 1,001 cases. But people do not respond to this event according to its logical

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 69 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, statistical status. Rather, the single event often has a decisive impact far beyond its logical status. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Changes in energy use are affected by the role of friends and acquaintances in spreading new ideas in an uncertain environment. New energy ideas may be held back at first because the fact that they have not been tried is taken as evidence that they do not work. But on the positive side, once a new method of saving energy has been tried, it can spread easily along predictable channels. Word of mouth is a particularly important medium of communication for social groups that either do not trust information from established institutions, or do not receive the information transmitted in other media due to lack of access or to language problems. The Momentum of Past Behavior Behavior once undertaken often requires additional bolstering and justification that in turn leads to a shift in values. People who have recently made an important decision seek to justify that decision after the fact—convincing themselves and others that the decision was a wise one. This behavior is predicted, explained, and researched under the rubric of the theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957; Festinger and Aronson, 1960; Aronson, 1969, 1980; Wicklund and Brehm, 1976).9 A few general findings and principles with potential relevance to energy use have come from this research. One, people tend to rationalize the choice they have made in a difficult decision. They tend to emphasize the positive aspects of the chosen alternative and the negative aspects of the unchosen alternative. As a result, as time goes by, the individual comes increasingly to view the selected option as clearly superior to the unselected one (Brehm, 1956; Darley and Berscheid, 1967). Two, the greater the commitment in terms of effort, cost, or irrevocability, the stronger and more permanent the effect (Aronson and Mills, 1959; Axsom and Cooper, 1980; Gerard and Mathewson, 1966; Knox and Inkster, 1968). Three, people tend to remember the plausible arguments favoring their own position and the implausible arguments opposing their position (Jones and Kohler, 1958); this serves the need for self-justification rather than that of objective fact-seeking. Four, once someone makes a small commitment in a given direction, that person is much more likely to make a large commitment than someone who is uninvolved (e.g., Freedman and Fraser, 1966). Applied to energy consumption, these principles describe an inertia in behavior: people resist change because they are committed to what they have been doing, and they justify that inertia by downgrading information that implies that change is essential. This partly explains the failure of many energy users to take economically justifiable action to save energy. But these principles also suggest that change may be brought about by a

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 70 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, process that begins with small commitments to energy-saving action and then moves under its own momentum toward more significant efforts. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. These principles have been demonstrated in controlled field experiments. Pallak, Cook, and Sullivan (1980) applied principles of commitment and self- justification directly to energy conservation. They reasoned that even when people are convinced that a particular course of action is desirable for themselves or the community, they still need a little help in overcoming inertia. “I really want to…[donate blood, get flu shots, give up smoking, go on a diet, conserve energy,] but…[I can’t find the time, I’ll start next week, etc.]” The researchers started with a group of homeowners who volunteered to try to save energy by turning down their thermostats, wearing sweaters, taking shorter showers, and so forth. The experimenters randomly assigned the volunteers to one of two groups. Both groups were given the same information about energy conservation strategies, but one group was informed that the researchers hoped to list participants’ names in an article about the experiment—thereby creating a high- commitment situation—while the other group was explicitly assured of anonymity. There was an immediate effect: people in the high-commitment group used about 15 percent less natural gas than people in the low-commitment group. In an identical experiment with electricity use, the difference between the two groups was close to 20 percent. More importantly, there was a lasting effect. After one month of observations, the volunteers were informed that the project had been successful in saving energy. But the homeowners in the high- commitment condition were told it would not be possible to use their names. The researchers continued to read the meters for the next eleven months and found that the homeowners in the high-commitment condition continued to use less energy than those in the control groups, although there was some decline in the magnitude of the difference as time passed. These findings have been confirmed in a similar, more recent study (Katzev and Johnson, 1982). The results of these studies are extremely provocative: they suggest that once a person believes he or she is publicly committed to saving energy, he or she adopts behaviors that can last much longer than the public commitment itself. A recent study by Bruce Hutton (1982) evaluated the effectiveness of three advertising campaigns aimed at motivating energy users to adopt conservation measures and purchase energy-efficient products. Two of the campaigns emphasized television, radio, and magazine advertising in attempts to get householders to give more consideration to energy efficiency in their appliance purchases. These campaigns increased awareness, but they were ineffective at changing behavior. Furthermore, the response to the campaigns did not follow the usual expectation that “more is better”: that is, more frequent exposure to a message did not mean greater impact. The only one of the three campaigns that produced a significant impact on behavior did not involve repeated exposure. Instead, an informational

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 71 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, booklet and a flow-restricting shower head insert were delivered to each of 4.5 million households. The households often inserted the flow restrictor and went on and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. to take other advice offered in the booklet—making furnace adjustments, insulating duct work, and so forth. These changes in behavior seem to have been due not only to the information in the booklet, but also to the momentum caused by installing the flow restrictor. Once a person makes a small commitment in the direction of energy conservation, his or her tendency to try other behaviors— especially if they are clearly described, inexpensive, and relatively easy—is increased. These experiments present clear, energy-relevant examples of a general behavioral dynamic: (1) people profess a desire to make a change; (2) the degree of change they make is enhanced by an intervention that increases the degree of cognitive commitment to the change; and (3) it may be inferred that people are pleased with the outcome, or at least they did not experience coercion. In the experiments by Pallak and his colleagues and by other researchers, people continued to show significant behavior change long after the precipitating event had passed and the presence of the researchers had lost its salience. Other studies suggest that adoption of one energy-saving practice led easily to the adoption of others. Some of the practical implications of this dynamic are explored further in the section below on energy information programs. The Expression of Personal Values and Norms Energy use is influenced by broad personal values and by specific norms for action. Those values and norms are products of upbringing, perceptions of world and local events, and the influence of other people. They can take on the psychological force of moral convictions or of ego involvement. For example, a person who grew up in poverty may define his or her personal worth in terms of consumerism. Such a person may feel he or she has “made it,” or succeeded in climbing out of impoverished circumstances, because there is no need to be concerned with cost or to worry about waste. “Why should I turn my thermostat down at night? I can afford it.” That kind of attitude, based as it is on a person’s sense of self, is a formidable barrier to energy-conserving actions. Similarly, a corporate executive is likely to feel that a person in his or her position should travel by air, ride in a large private car, and work in a spacious, climate-controlled office. A very different value, which seems to be gaining favor among U.S. consumers, has been called “voluntary simplicity” (Elgin and Mitchell, 1977). Leonard-Barton (1981b) describes it in terms of a syndrome of behaviors: using bicycles for transportation, recycling paper, cans, and glass, learning to increase self-sufficiency, eating meatless meals, buying secondhand goods, and making certain items at home instead of purchasing

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 72 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, them. In three studies in California, it was shown that people who score high on an index of these behaviors were more apt than others to intend to purchase, or to and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. have purchased, wall insulation, furnace timers, and solar water heating equipment. They were also more likely to report such energy-saving behaviors such as turning off furnace pilot lights during summer months and weatherstripping doors and windows. At least three types of individuals have been found to adopt lifestyles of voluntary simplicity. Leonard-Barton called them “conservers,” “crusaders,” and “conformists.” The conservers are people for whom conservation is a long- established pattern of living that emphasizes thrift. Crusaders are motivated to live a life of voluntary simplicity by a strong sense of social responsibility—a conviction that everyone lives in a small, delicately balanced ecosystem whose resources need to be carefully husbanded. Conformists are people who engage in voluntary simplicity for less well-defined reasons: some seem to be motivated by guilt for possessing an excess of wordly goods; others are influenced by living in a highly energy-conserving and ecologically aware neighborhood. Such people are likely to revert to a high consumption lifestyle if they return to a social setting in which consumption is encouraged (Leonard-Barton and Rogers, 1979). If voluntary simplicity gains acceptance (Olsen, 1981), there are broad-ranging implications for energy use. Specific energy-saving actions can also become associated with widely held values, such as helping others. When this happens, people feel a moral obligation to act. This process has been studied in a four-year field experiment with time- of-day pricing of residential electricity in Wisconsin. Utility customers were experimentally assigned to a variety of electricity rate structures that included a large jump in rates during the peak demand periods on weekdays. Participants who believed that lowered demand in peak periods would be good for people in general—for example, by allowing utilities to shut down inefficient and polluting power plants—and also believed that households as a group could make a big difference in peak demand, felt a moral obligation to lower electricity use in peak periods (Black, 1978). This feeling of moral obligation proved to be more important than price: people who felt an obligation to change their behavior had lower electric bills than people who felt no moral obligation, but who faced the same electricity rates. In fact, this effect was greater than that of price even when the price differentials between peak and off-peak hours ranged as high as 8 to 1 (Heberlein and Warriner, 1982). General attitudes do not always predict energy use (Farhar, Weis, Unseld, and Burns, 1979; Olsen, 1981). But it is reasonable to suppose that personal values and norms will affect behavior unless action is constrained by other influences. A value of voluntary simplicity or a sense of moral obligation to use energy resources efficiently may provide an impetus for action, but some actions are easier to accomplish than others because of

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 73 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, limitations on behavior imposed by the environment. People may be prevented from acting on their values and norms because decisions have been made for them and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. by intermediaries; because they do not have the right to act, for example, by insulating the walls of a rented apartment; because they cannot afford some actions; or for other reasons. Thus, personal values and norms are more influential with respect to some energy-related behaviors than others. There is evidence supporting this analysis. For example, Stern, Black, and Elworth (1982b, 1983) have classified residential conservation actions as either major capital investments, low-cost efficiency improvements, minor curtailments, or temperature setbacks. They attempted to account for each type of behavior in a statewide sample of homeowners and renters in Massachusetts. They found that personal norms supporting energy conservation were reliable predictors of temperature setbacks, a cost-free action available to almost all households. Norms were more weakly related to low-cost actions, such as weatherstripping, and to minor curtailments, and they showed the weakest relationship of all to major household investments, such as insulation and replacement of inefficient furnace equipment. In short, a personal norm supporting energy conservation is most likely to be converted into action if the action involves little cost in time or money. In theory, this norm-activation process could be used by educational programs. Numerous controlled experiments with exhortations to save energy, however, have had generally unimpressive results (Ester and Winett, 1982; Stern and Gardner, 1981).10 These suggest that it is not easy to shape norms with exhortation. Over time, however, the effect of personal norms—especially if they are changing—is almost certain to accumulate. When that occurs, an understanding of the relationship of energy use and conservation to individual values and norms will prove useful for forecasting trends in energy consumption. Understanding energy-related values and norms will also be useful for understanding public support and opposition to energy policies and programs. MAKING ENERGY INFORMATION PROGRAMS EFFECTIVE Chapter 3 and the previous material provide a basis for understanding household energy users. We now use the analysis to examine the problem of providing energy information to individuals and households. The home energy audit is discussed in detail at the end of the chapter as an important type of energy information program. Federal, state, and local governments have devoted considerable effort to providing more complete and accurate information for individual energy users. Government agencies have demanded, developed, and disseminated

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 74 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, a wealth and variety of energy information. Fuel economy tests have been mandated for automobiles, and the results are publicized in Fuel Economy and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Mileage Guides, which are distributed through automobile dealers, affixed to new cars, and included in new car advertising. Energy efficiency ratings have been calculated for air conditioners and other major household appliances, and manufacturers have been required to display this information prominently on the appliances. Pamphlets have been published offering advice on how to reinsulate homes, how to drive an automobile in an energy-saving manner, and how to save energy in many other ways. State Energy Extension Services have been funded, and each has provided its own set of information programs. A computerized energy audit system (“Project Conserve”) was developed to provide accurate information on the energy-saving measures that should prove cost-effective for individual homes. And in the Residential Conservation Service, detailed energy audit information was included in a package of services designed to provide expert advice, financial assistance, ease of purchase and payment, and quality control for major household weatherization activities. While some of those programs have been discontinued and others are in the process of change, all share a common implicit rationale that complete information is necessary to make rational decisions in the energy market and that, because of new developments in technology and continuous changes in energy prices, the information that individuals and households had previously used had become obsolete. Without programs to provide accurate information on the new environment, people would make decisions that would not further their own or the nation’s interests. This rationale derives from a view of energy users as rational actors motivated to minimize energy-related costs and maximize income available after energy needs have been met. In short, the creators of government information programs have usually assumed that energy users act as investors. Federal energy information programs have also proceeded from implicit assumptions about the way information works—and those assumptions are fundamentally wrong. The programs tend to be constructed as if people presented with accurate estimates of, for example, thermal performance of a variety of furnaces, would use this information in purchasing decisions. Even when people are acting as investors, however, this is not the case: information that reaches a person’s eyes or ears is not necessarily noticed, understood, assimilated, or used. For information to be effective in a decision process, making it available is not enough. The Roles of Government Although the need to attract attention, offer clear and compelling presentations, and motivate audiences to use information is well understood by communications professionals, government officials have generally been

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 75 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, unwilling to build energy information programs on principles of effective communication. This unwillingness is partly based on a fear of manipulation by and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. government and on the notion that government should be responsive to the public, not the other way around. But there are some inconsistencies in the view of the proper government role. For example, it is considered appropriate in the United States for government to offer strong financial incentives such as low- interest loans, tax credits, and excise taxes to influence citizens and organizations to conform to the intent of public policy. It is usually considered proper to proscribe behavior with regulations, and to attach civil or criminal penalties. It is also considered appropriate for public officials, notably the president and cabinet members, to use access to mass media in attempts to persuade citizens to support their policies—or even their policy proposals. And it is considered appropriate for government agencies to use the media to argue against drug use and to promote good nutrition and other public welfare measures, although only if media access is available at no cost. It has usually been considered inappropriate, however, for the U.S. government to use paid advertising to persuade people to do what public policy implies or requires. And government agencies rarely employ communications professionals to design informational materials for maximum impact. Government agencies are in a bind: they can aid public policy by providing citizens with information, but they are seriously constrained as to methods. The guiding philosophy has been to make information passive, leaving energy users mainly responsible for searching out, selecting, and interpreting available information. The roots of this situation are a fascinating part of the human dimension of energy. Clearly, political pressure from affected interests as well as legitimate of manipulation have a role in the design of particular informational programs. This is why some energy information programs have been pursued more aggressively than others and why the importance given energy information, and the form it takes, changes with national administrations. In particular, the Carter and Reagan administrations differed in their views of the proper role of the federal government in energy information. While U.S. policy may change with administrations, the range of approaches taken in the United States is rather narrow. This can be easily seen by comparison with Canadian government information programs. Figures 4, 5, and 6 are reproductions of full-page newspaper advertisements purchased by the Canadian government’s Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Resources in the late 1970s. In several ways, these informational efforts do things that U.S. government energy information programs have never done. They are, first of all, paid media advertising. Second, they are clearly promotional in tone. And third, they attack, in fairly direct ways, the interests of energy producers and automobile companies.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 76 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Fig. 4 . Canadian government advertisement for insulation (#1) SOURCE: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada The difference between the Canadian and U.S. approaches appears to lie partly in the extent to which energy conservation is defined as a public interest in the two countries. This, in turn, relates to dominant conceptions of energy, as described in Chapter 2. To the extent that energy is defined as an ordinary commodity, informational functions are likely to be left to producers of fuels and manufacturers of energy-using equipment, possibly with some regulation to guard against fraud. If, however, energy is seen as an ecological resource, a necessity, or a strategic material, a public interest in controlling energy use is implied, and more aggressive governmental programs are justified. So far, these latter views of energy and the interests they serve have not been sufficiently influential in U.S. politics

About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS SOURCE: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada Fig. 5 . Canadian government advertisement for insulation (#2) 77

About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 78

About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. energy-efficient automobile purchases. INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS SOURCE: Energy, Mines and Resources Canada Fig. 6 . Full-page Canadian government newspaper advertisement for 79

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 80 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, to overcome resistance, so there are no ads containing ideas like those supported by the Canadian government. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Unlike many energy information efforts in the United States, the Canadian messages are characterized by vivid pictorial and graphic illustrations, appeals to a variety of motives (solving a national problem, saving money, preventing loss of personal funds to the oil companies, and so forth), and attention to particular behaviors likely to follow reading the ad. These features are likely to increase the effectiveness of the communications. Since no clear rationale has ever been offered for keeping government communications dull and narrowly focused, it may be politically easier to change the format of information than the content or medium of presentation. Indeed, after years of apparent inattention, the Department of Energy has begun to experiment with graphics to attract attention to fuel economy stickers on automobiles (Figure 7). Still, energy information programs in the United States continue to operate under serious limitations. The society’s decision on whether to remove some of the present restrictions on information programs will depend in part on decisions about whether there is a public interest in increasing energy efficiency. It is important to recognize, however, that information programs that fail to present information in the most effective way, for whatever reason, will fall short of the hopes held out for them: information made available is not the same as information used. The Value of Information Programs For analytic purposes, it makes sense to judge information programs against the criterion of rational decision making that underlies them. An effective energy program would be one that leads energy users to take actions that minimize the total cost of the energy-related services they purchase—that is, to do what economically rational people theoretically do with full information.11 Of course, expectations of effectiveness must also reflect resources devoted to a program. Our discussion clearly suggests that judged against this criterion, existing and past energy information programs are ineffective. However, relatively few energy information programs have been formally evaluated, and the available evaluations have been much less systematic than is desirable for drawing firm conclusions. True experimental studies of energy information programs are rare, so the evaluation research is plagued by problems of inference: because program participants are volunteers, they differ from nonparticipants, and it is difficult to tell how much of the change observed among participants might have occurred without a program. In addition, many evaluations rest on questionable assumptions about the validity of respondents’ self-reports of their behavior; about the actual behavior implied by survey responses, such as checking a box marked “insulated attic;”

About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. SOURCE: Pirkey et. al., 1982 Fig. 7 . Fuel economy label designs INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 81

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 82 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, about the energy implications of the behavior if it did occur; and so on. Finally, because most of the evaluation studies were commissioned by organizations and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. responsible for the programs being evaluated, who have a stake in the outcomes of the research, the assumptions, methodologies, and conclusions may have been subject to political pressure, with unknown effects. For example, the Department of Energy commissioned an evaluation of a 1979 program in which it distributed water flow limiters and conservation information t o all households in New England (Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, 1980). It found an annual savings of $26 in fuel for each dollar spent by the program. But a review by the General Accounting Office (GAO) (1981) criticized the evaluation for making assumptions that may have vastly inflated the estimates of energy and money saved. The Department of Energy subsequently reestimated energy savings to account for one of the GAO’s major criticisms; this reestimation reduced the estimated savings by one-third. The remaining GAO criticisms did not receive response, but a defensible case can be made that even the revised estimate is several times too high. Although on the surface the program seems to have been cost effective, this conclusion cannot be drawn from the evaluation with much certainty. Because of the self-interest of most of these conducting evaluation studies, it would be naive to take their conclusions at face value. But what of the general issue: how valuable is energy information? A careful analysis of the methodologies and data convinces us that some energy information programs have been effective in terms of producing economically justified energy savings by consumers. These programs probably include the Energy Extension Service, which was evaluated by the Department of Energy (1980), the automobile fuel economy information program of the Department of Energy (see McNutt and Rucker, 1981), and a few of the programs aimed at promoting major home retrofits (see Hirst, Berry, and Soderstrom, 1981). Other lines of evidence also suggest that under optimum conditions, energy information programs might be important. It is obvious, for example, that automobile manufacturers know that fuel economy sometimes sells cars: their advertising has often said much more about miles-per gallon than is mandated by regulations. In fact, it has been estimated that the automotive industry spent upwards of $100 million on advertising fuel economy in 1979 (Pirkey, McNutt, Hemphill, and Dulla, 1982). While fuel economy has been less of a concern of automobile advertisers since then, in 1982 it was still one of the major foci (Pirkey, 1982), reflecting the concerns expressed by purchasers of new cars. At the same time, because manufacturers are not trusted as a source of fuel economy information (Pirkey, 1982), information from a standardized fuel efficiency test has an important function—if it is effectively presented. Overall, most information programs seem to do less than their creators

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 83 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, hope. This occurs both because information that is made available does not reach all of the intended audience and because the information that does reach the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. audience often remains unused. But because the implementation of information campaigns has been severely restricted it would be a mistake to conclude that energy information cannot be effective. As Ester and Winett (1982) have shown, the frequent finding of ineffectiveness reflects the fact that the interventions evaluated are usually of poor design. Problems and Opportunities In Chapter 3, we identified several conditions that partly explain why information does not always lead people to take all actions that are in their own economic interest. Some of these conditions are outside the control of any information program: lack of funds; inability to invest in property that is only rented or leased; unavailability of desired energy-saving products; and the fact that many households, because of their own or someone else’s previous decisions, own, live in, or operate energy-inefficient houses, apartments, automobiles, furnaces, or appliances that are prohibitively expensive to replace. But there are still other problems and opportunities for information programs. Government programs have emphasized developing energy information that is accurate and reliable (in a scientific sense) and disseminating the information to reach many people. These emphases are necessary, but there are other problems that must also be addressed if an information program is to be effective: Scarcity of Attention. Energy users sometimes act as problem avoiders.For many people, processing complex energy information presents a formidable task. Information is less likely to be used if it arrives when a householder is busy with more pressing issues; if it is too detailed for the energy user’s needs; if it is not easily related to the recipient’s daily concerns; or if it is presented in a manner that fails to attract attention. Diversity of Energy Users’ Needs. Because households use different fuelsin different proportions for different purposes, because they live in different kinds of buildings, because they have different travel needs, and because of variations in income and housing tenure, general information includes much that is irrelevant for any given energy user. This may distract from relevant information or make the provider of the information seem unreliable or useless. But the problem of diversity is not generic. It is most serious for information about such technologies as solar heating and home insulation, for which the energy savings vary greatly with the building, the climate, the manner of installation, and users’ behavior. It is less serious for mass-produced products like automobiles and air conditioners, because,

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 84 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, even though these products are used differently by different people, manufacture is standardized. The problem of diversity is least serious when neither the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. technology nor user behavior varies greatly, as with refrigerators and freezers. Invisibility of Energy. Because most people have little experience withthe details of the operation of furnaces, water heaters, automobile engines, and so forth, they may not pay attention to information on how to improve their operation or find more efficient equipment, or they may find such technical information incomprehensible. Invisibility is also a problem because many of the remedies recommended by information programs are themselves invisible, so it is difficult for an energy user to know whether or not the remedy has been effective. Understandable Skepticism About Energy Information. A governmentagency may be convinced that its information is accurate and reliable and that its estimates of savings are reasonable, but energy users have good reasons to be skeptical. This problem is particularly difficult because a solution seems to require information providers to recognize that no matter how carefully and scientifically they gather information, people will need to consult other sources before they can develop trust. Informational programs can address these problems. We first discuss two topics that have been addressed by much careful research: the problems of attracting the attention of energy users and of making energy savings visible. Then we turn to home energy audit programs to show how this knowledge can be used. Attracting Attention Because information is effective only if it attracts attention, telling people how to save energy can be seen as an advertising problem. But there are important differences between offering energy information and selling soap or toothpaste. The concept of “social marketing” (Kotler and Zaltman, 1971) is useful for pointing out these differences. Social marketing has been defined as the attempt “to increase the acceptability of a social idea or practice in a target group(s)” (Kotler, 1975). Generally, these ideas or practices have benefits beyond the individual who adopts them. Thus, offering information on energy efficiency may be a form of social marketing. To consider it as such, however, is to question the idea of passive distribution of information that underlies much of the U.S. government’s effort to offer energy information. “Marketing” implies a much more active process. This points to a major difference between

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 85 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, selling soap and providing energy information: to the extent that energy information programs are publicly supported or mandated, they are the outcome and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. of a political process that determines a public interest is being served. This process not only creates information programs, but influences their content and methods of operation. The political nature of energy information programs creates problems for those who run them. Bloom and Novelli (1981) point out that social marketers often face pressure against treating different segments of their audiences differently because this may be seen as unfair. Thus, it may be politically difficult to use the techniques of market segmentation that have been developed by the advertising industry. In addition, politics often limits the choice of media and messages for energy campaigns. An example is the prohibition against government purchase of advertising space or media time for energy information. Social marketers are subject to political pressure in a way corporate advertisers rarely are. As a result, public information programs in the United States have been prevented from using the most effective communication techniques. However, private organizations, such as utility companies, can carry out programs of social marketing of energy conservation without public debate. While their actions would not be so restricted by political control as those of government, they are restricted by private control—the public interest is not usually a prime focus of privately run energy information programs. Another difference between energy information and ordinary advertising is organizational. Information providers in government cannot influence product design or pricing the way the marketing department of an automobile or of an appliance manufacturing company can. Yet the design and pricing of a device such as a miles-per-gallon monitor for new cars may be an important influence on its acceptability. Energy information is also unlike soap or toothpaste because of the nature of the “products.” Like other objects of social marketing (Bloom and Novelli, 1981), energy efficiency is not well understood by the public. One reason for this is the invisibility of energy flows. As a result, it is difficult or impossible to design simple messages or “product concepts” that can, through repetition, make an impression on an audience. Energy information is more like an educational program than an ordinary advertising problem in that its messages are complex. It is also often essential in social marketing to “sell” ideas to those least likely or able to “buy,” for example, antismoking messages to confirmed smokers or energy efficiency to low-income households. Nevertheless, available knowledge could be better used in the design of energy information programs, despite all the existing constraints. If information for energy users is to be effective, it must be presented to attract and hold attention. To do this, the information must be presented in an

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 86 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, inviting format, it must be made easily understandable, it must be specific to the desired end, it should be timed so that action by the consumer is convenient and and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. possible soon after the information is received, and it should be distributed by sources that command the energy user’s attention (Ester and Winett, 1982; Stern and Gardner, 1981). Energy information programs have not generally followed these principles: energy information is often available only in monochromatic, small-print pamphlets distributed upon request by the Government Printing Office. Although much of the information is valuable, the format is neither eye- catching, simple, nor convenient, and the distribution system is unknown to most people. Even the best-recognized energy information program, the fuel economy labels on new cars, has been presented for nine years in a dull format (see Figure 7, above). Other communication-based programs have been too general to be effective—for example, a billboard that shows the national gas tank reading nearly empty, with the legend, “Don’t be fuelish.” Dozens of controlled experiments have been conducted using various sorts of communications to get people to take actions that reduce use of energy or other resources. Reviewers have generally concluded (Ester and Winett, 1982; Shippee, 1980; Winett and Neale, 1979) that the experiments have produced very little energy savings. But like many government programs, most of these studies have failed to use the most effective available communication techniques (Ester and Winett, 1982). The evidence from this group of studies supports the knowledge of communication theory, emphasizing the effectiveness of messages that are specific, repeated, and very close in time to the desired behavior (Ester and Winett, 1982).12 Not all information programs have been ignorant of communications principles. There has been some noticeable success in presenting information in simple and understandable form. Some programs have distilled energy-efficiency information into simple numbers—miles-per-gallon, energy efficiency ratios for air conditioners, and payback estimates.13 Other programs have created a simple category, such as when utilities have certified certain buildings as energy efficient, thus providing simple and valuable information to prospective purchasers or renters (Stern et al., 1981). The miles-per-gallon number has proven especially useful, judging from the frequent emphasis on it in automobile and motor oil advertising and in casual discussions among motorists. Miles-per-gallon is an especially meaningful unit for energy users, being a ratio of two measurements that are meaningful and generally used (Kempton and Montgomery, 1982). Energy-efficiency numbers for appliances and payback-period estimates are probably a step in the right direction, since they simplify information processing. However, because they do not build on familiar and intuitively meaningful concepts, they are likely to be less potent than the miles-per-gallon concept.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 87 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, Making Energy Savings Visible Many of the most effective energy-saving devices are hard to see. Moreover, the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. energy they save is invisible and difficult for most energy users to monitor with any accuracy. Other effects of energy savings, such as increased comfort or a small increase in disposable income, may also be difficult to perceive. As a result, people who successfully save energy do not necessarily know it and may even conclude that their efforts are useless. For example, consider a homeowner whose savings from adding insulation or a new furnace are masked by changes in weather or energy prices. If cooling or heating costs are higher after the investment than before, it is discouraging. For these reasons, energy information programs should benefit from making energy savings more visible to those who achieve them. Such programs would gain credibility and the benefit of positive word-of-mouth advertising. When people learn the difference between effective and ineffective energy-saving actions they become better able to respond to emergency conditions that call for rapid changes in patterns of energy use. Field experiments have explored various ways to provide energy users with an accurate account of their energy use. One method involves the installation of devices that monitor fuel or electricity use and provide digital readouts in cents- per-day, miles-per-gallon, or other useful units. In another method, people read gas or electric meters and provide householders with energy-use information on a daily or weekly basis, again using any of various simplifying measurements. Research has examined the effects of teaching people to read their own meters, sometimes combining this instruction with a commitment from the energy user to try to save a certain percentage of energy use. Still other research has examined variations on the presentation of information on utility bills, maintaining the regular monthly billing period, but providing information in a more useful form. Many of these “feedback” procedures have proven effective in studies of residential energy use (Seligman, Becker, and Darley, 1981; Shippee, 1980; Winett and Neale, 1979). The degree of effectiveness depends on several factors. First, feedback must be credible—that is, related to behavior. For feedback about energy used for home heating and cooling, this usually means using weather- corrected units. But if the units being used are not understood, the information may be discredited (Winett and Neale, 1979). Second, feedback is more effective when energy users have made a commitment to conserve energy (Seligman et al., 1981) or have set themselves quantitative goals for saving energy. In one study, participants in a feedback experiment who committed themselves to reducing energy consumption 20 percent used 12 percent less energy than people who were

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 88 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, trying to save only 2 percent (Becker, 1978). But participants did not make additional savings simply by setting a more difficult goal. In comparison groups and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. that did not receive feedback, setting a more difficult goal produced only a 5 percent relative savings of energy. Feedback is more likely to be effective if given as part of a program in which the energy user is an active participant rather than simply being a passive recipient—even when information is offered about how to interpret the feedback. Third, there is evidence to suggest that more frequent feedback is more effective. Frequency may be important mainly for individuals with relatively little commitment or when the energy-saving behaviors are difficult to maintain (Seligman et al., 1981). It may also be that frequency per se is less important than the fact that the feedback follows immediately upon some action that has been tried for saving energy (Shippee, 1980). If this is the case, what is important is that the feedback be meaningful for behavior—someone might learn as much by occasionally monitoring a utility meter or more sophisticated device as from a program of frequent feedback. In addition, frequent feedback that simply appears regularly and is unrelated to behavior may soon be seen as irrelevant and be disregarded. Fourth, feedback is more effective when the relevant energy costs are a large portion of the household budget (Winkler and Winett, 1982). While this finding demonstrates the importance of energy prices, it also underscores a point we made in Chapter 3 about energy invisibility—that economic forces are not enough to bring about the appropriate adjustments in household energy use. Rising prices or falling incomes provide motivation and bring energy into awareness, but motivation alone produces less saving than motivation combined with a technique to make energy more visible. As Winkler and Winett (1982) found, feedback typically had no effect when energy costs were no more than 2 percent of household budgets; by contrast, when energy costs were more than 5 percent of the household budget, feedback produced energy savings of around 15 percent beyond the effect of cost alone. A reasonable interpretation is that energy costs motivate and that feedback provides essential knowledge about how well efforts to save energy and money are succeeding. This is consistent with the notion that energy invisibility has involved a loss of knowledge among residential energy users that has important implications for energy use.14 It is important to note that most of the experimental research on feedback provided information by highly labor-intensive methods, often involving daily meter readings and individualized communications for participants in the research. Such procedures are not necessary; feedback can be automated at fairly low cost with display meters. Display meters, installed in a home, would solve the problem of lack of frequent and meaningful feedback by making feedback available whenever needed. But there has been too little research to determine what format for feedback

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 89 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, would be the most credible and useful. The question is not trivial. In the first study of residential display meters, the feedback had no effect (Becker et al., and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. 1979)—possibly because feedback was given (in cents-per-hour) at two-second intervals. This method showed major changes in energy use only when appliances were shut off entirely. Useful feedback might also be delivered to households through an improved utility billing system. Research on this issue, while limited, shows that it has some promise as well as some problems (Russo, 1977).15 A few studies have also examined the use of energy consumption feedback in motor vehicles. They are somewhat promising, showing small fuel savings in the 5 to 10 percent range from the installation of devices to monitor fuel use on cars and trucks (Stern and Gardner, 1981; Reichel and Geller, 1981). It is reasonable to expect that the effectiveness of feedback on fuel used in vehicles will depend on some of the same variables as for home energy use: credibility of the feedback; commitment and the setting of goals; frequency; and the importance of fuel costs in the user’s budget. Feedback systems for making energy visible have a potential advantage over verbal information and advice in that they can be made credible independently of the issue of trust in an information source. While a utility’s motives may be mistrusted when it sends advice on how to save energy, its meter readings are usually accepted as definitive. Therefore, feedback systems may be important independently of issues of trust. HOME ENERGY AUDITS Because houses and apartments vary so much in their structural characteristics and because their energy requirements also depend on climate, the cost of fuel used, the stock of appliances in the home, and the behavior of their occupants, most recommendations for energy-saving activity in “all homes” are likely to be inappropriate for many households. Technical experts in residential energy conservation have long recognized this and have developed the concept of a home energy audit specifically to handle the problem of diversity—to give householders expert advice suited to their individual situations. Over almost a decade, various programs to provide individualized energy information through home energy audits have existed in the United States. Some of them have been based on short building surveys, filled out by residents and analyzed by computer to give recommendations for action. These “Class B” energy audits typically give the householder information on the estimated costs of each suggested action (if installed by a contractor or if done with the resident’s own labor) and some simple measure of expected return on investment—either estimated dollar savings per year or an estimate of the number of years it would take the investment to pay back its cost at current energy prices. Class B audits are an inexpensive

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 90 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, way to give householders individualized recommendations, but they are based on a highly simplified analysis of the building and thus do not give the most accurate and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. information for a given home. A “Class A” energy audit involves a visit by a trained energy auditor to the home and an inspection of the residence; it frequently results in on-the-spot recommendations to the occupants. It is more expensive, but the expense may be worthwhile because more accurate information results. Class A audits have been a required part of programs under the Residential Conservation Service, a national program mandated in the Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1978. The best available documentation of a rationale for home energy audits is in the regulations for the Residential Conservation Service (Federal Register, Nov. 7, 1979).16 The original RCS regulations emphasized the need of household energy users for useful, reliable, and accurate information. More concretely, the regulations detailed recommended conservation practices by heating fuel and by climatic zone—down to the county level. They described standards for materials to be used in recommended work under the program; and they presented formulas for calculating cost-effectiveness before recommending conservation measures. These efforts were made to ensure that auditors’ recommendations would be based on the most reliable and accurate available information. The regulations also emphasized that energy auditors be trained, though procedures for training were not spelled out. In addition, RCS regulations required that recommendations be delivered to householders in person. The regulations also emphasize household economics: auditors are required to recommend only those actions that are justifiable in terms of payback time, and payback is a prominent feature of the information energy auditors provide. This presumably makes the information useful.17 The Effectiveness of Home Energy Audits Like other energy programs, RCS apparently assumes energy users are primarily rational actors who wish to minimize energy-related costs over an extended period and who need full information to make the most effective decisions. The attention to the use of the payback concept shows that RCS also recognizes that full information, depending on how it is presented, may be more or less useful. However, the evidence shows that the useful, reliable, and accurate information in most RCS and related programs is not necessarily effective information. The information in energy audits is often ineffective because it reaches so few people. Most utilities that run energy audit programs report participation rates of less than 5 percent of eligible customers (Hirst et al., 1981; Rosenberg, 1980), despite their publicity efforts. And this does not mean that few people need the information; actually, the people in house

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 91 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, holds that request energy audits are generally more educated, have higher incomes, and are more interested in energy issues than the general public (e.g., and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. Hirst et al., 1981). This suggests that the information is going to people who are likely to be better informed in the first place. It also means that the poor and less educated, who have a strong need for information and who tend to live in energy-inefficient homes, are not reached by these information programs. Hirst and his colleagues (1981) identified this as the most obvious shortcoming among the twenty-seven utility-run programs they studied. Furthermore, those who get the detailed information from energy audits do not necessarily act on it. One review (Rosenberg, 1980) concluded that only 20 to 30 percent of households followed their participation in programs that combined energy audits and low-interest financing by taking the recommended action. And another review (Hirst et al., 1981) concluded that the level of energy-saving activity among participants in audit programs represents only a modest increase over the level of action by nonparticipants. Thus, energy audit programs have often fallen short on two counts: reaching their clienteles, and converting audits into action. Reaching the Clientele The evidence suggests that householders respond to audit programs partly as a function of the method used to publicize the programs. Rosenberg (1980) reports participation rates of 1 to 3 percent when publicity is by enclosures with utility bills; 3 to 6 percent with direct mail: 5 to 7 percent with a combination of direct mail and media advertising; and higher participation when unpaid media news coverage is made available. Stern, Black, and Elworth (1981) have pointed out that such publicity techniques are probably most effective with middle-class homeowners, while for a low-income clientele, word-of-mouth campaigns relying on community groups, tenants’ associations, church groups, and so forth might be more effective. They suggest that large organizations sponsoring audit programs may be more effective in getting attention if they join forces with local groups that have personal contacts with the intended clientele. Aggressively pursued information programs can be effective with low- income groups when the programs emphasize energy-saving techniques appropriate to their clients. One study (Winett, Love, and Kidd, 1982) tested a program in which energy experts visited residents of centrally airconditioned low-income housing units in Virginia and demonstrated methods for minimizing use of electricity for water heating and cooling. The program lent each participating household a window fan and provided instruction on where and when to use it, on the use of natural ventilation for cooling, and on energy- efficient operation of the water heater. Savings

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 92 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, ranged from 9 percent in cooler summer periods to 24 percent when the weather was hotter. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. A few generalizations about publicity for energy information campaigns have emerged from a review of media campaigns by Koster (1981): programs were more successful when they offered a premium, such as a water-flow restrictor or free information booklets, and when they combined appeals to consumer responsibility with suggestions for specific actions. These recommendations are consistent with Hutton’s (1982) findings on energy advertising campaigns and with the importance of commitment and personal control. Koster also found that scare tactics and appeals to patriotism were much less effective than specific, useful information. In addition, Koster’s report offers numerous suggestions about operational details involved in using the mass media for energy information campaigns. Publicity for energy audit programs can also take advantage of the diversity in energy users’ needs and their motives for saving energy. For some people, saving energy is a matter of financial necessity, while for others it may mean eliminating cold drafts, conserving scarce landlord-supplied heat, or attaining the satisfaction that comes from upholding personal values of thrift of environmental preservation. Announcements of energy audits, as well as communications from program personnel during the audits themselves, should emphasize those outcomes of energy savings that are important for the sort of household they are addressing. Communications should be different for homeowners and renters: for people who are or are not concerned about national energy problems; and for people who differ in other identifiable ways. It is also useful to have several sources distribute information in each area. In this way, more people will receive information from at least one source they pay attention to and trust. If a program is publicized through local organizations, the staffs of those organizations may be in the best position to know what their members and associates want from an energy program. This knowledge can do more than help with publicity. It may also direct a program’s emphasis to particular kinds of energy-saving actions— do-it-yourself versus contracted improvements, for example. Publicity cannot overcome all the reasons for nonresponse to audit programs. Some programs emphasize activities that cost too much for certain households or are irrelevant for renters. And some program sponsors may not be motivated to try to reach all the clientele, as when an electric or gas utility company is responsible for providing energy-saving information to households that heat with oil. From Audit to Action Assuming that an energy auditor gets in the door, the effectiveness of an audit still depends on much more than having reliable, understandable

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 93 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, information to offer. The energy audit process should be treated as one of interpersonal communication rather than one of machinelike information and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. transfer, because: (1) people do not assimilate all information equally; (2) the credibility and trustworthiness of information sources are paramount issues; (3) what people do with information may depend greatly upon the communicator’s social skills; and (4) it is necessary to communicate information that is unfamiliar and hard for many people to visualize. An emphasis on the interpersonal aspect of an energy audit immediately underscores the importance of the RCS regulation, recently eliminated, that mandates that information be delivered in person. While important, however, personal contact is not enough to make the energy audit an effective communication. Since people have learned to be skeptical of energy information, credibility is of critical importance—and an essential component of credibility is trustworthiness. Because of the low level of trust in some energy institutions (Farhar, Unseld, Vories, and Crews, 1980), energy auditors will often fail to elicit trust even with personal contact. Energy auditors are likely to be more effective if they are not employees or agents of anyone who can profit from their recommendations. Getting Messages Noticed. An auditor is also much more effective if heor she presents information in ways that attract attention and are memorable (Borgida and Nisbett, 1977; Hamill, Wilson, and Nisbett, 1980; Nisbett et al., 1976; Taylor and Thompson, 1982). Statistical data summaries and impersonal informational sources are less salient than face-to-face interactions and detailed case studies. As with the story of the prospective Volvo buyer (Nisbett et al., 1976), impersonal data summaries, however accurate and reliable, have less impact than more concrete information even when the more vivid and personal information is less representative. Thus, energy audits are more effective if auditors are trained in communication skills. They should be trained to present information not only completely and accurately, but also in the most vivid and salient manner possible. This may include, where feasible, reports of energy savings achieved in similar homes in the same climate zone. Even better are accounts of homes in the same neighborhood—and reports from the homes of friends the householder has visited would be still more dramatic. Probably because of its salience and vividness, personalized information has more impact on individuals than statistical data, even when the latter are much more reliable and accurate (Nisbett et al., 1976; Taylor and Thompson, 1982). Intuitive knowledge of this phenomenon is sometimes applied by unscrupulous salespeople to mislead, but it can also be used to emphasize a statistically valid point. Thus, as Yates and Aronson (1983) suggest, after describing the average cost-benefit ratios associated with various conservation practices, an energy auditor might describe the ex

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 94 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, perience of a “superconserver” as well. Superconservers are families who save more energy and money than the average. The auditor might say something such and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. as the following: “…of course, these estimates are averages; your savings might be greater or less than average. But, I’d like to tell you about one local success story so you can get a sense of just how effective these practices can be. The ‘Smiths,’ who live in this town, installed weatherstripping. They save about [the average savings of this superconserving family] every month.” Identifying superconservers provides tangible and dramatic evidence. This approach may seem a bit like high-pressure salesmanship and therefore offensive. Such a reaction would be particularly likely and appropriate if the audit program were sponsored by an organization that is mistrusted. Thus, the acceptability of such an aggressive approach depends on the earned trust of the auditor or the organization represented. One way to gain trust would be to encourage word-of-mouth communication about the program. For example, people who receive audits could meet or talk to “superconservers” and other clients of the program. The importance of salience and vividness, personalized information, and trust suggest that energy auditors can be more effective if they work in a neighborhood and if they know people in the community. The idea of vividness also implies that a “hands-on” approach involving clear demonstrations would be greatly superior to a procedure in which the householder is passive and receives only a summary of recommendations. Telling people that they are losing a certain percentage of home heat through the cracks around their windows is not as compelling as setting up a situation that demonstrates the heat loss with an infrared scanner or shows the smoke from a smoke stick pouring out under doors and over window sills. Smoke sticks emit a fine powder that flows with the air currents in a room. They are inexpensive as well as quick and easy to use; they make energy losses highly visible and provide a graphic illustration of the need for caulking and weatherstripping. The “House Doctor” concept, as developed at Princeton University, is an excellent example of an energy audit system that has translated some of these principles into action. Energy auditors were trained to encourage the householder to go on the audit with them around the home. The house doctors explain the audit, demonstrate with smoke sticks, and invite active participation on the client’s part. It is relatively ineffective for energy auditors to simply leave the householder with a computer summary of the potential savings associated with various retrofits. It is more effective for the auditor to discuss all recommendations with the customer. Moreover, if an auditor uses a copy of the household’s most recent utility bill to illustrate a point, it is personal and more effective than talking in the abstract.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 95 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, “Framing” Messages. Recent research has shown that information is moreor less effective depending on the way it is “framed” (Tversky and Kahneman, and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. 1981). An illustration of this is the evidence that while most people might drive across town to save $5 on a $15 item, few would drive across town to save $5 on a $125 item. Rational actors would be equally likely to make the effort under both conditions, but for real people, the situations are apparently very different.18 Another example of the importance of framing a situation is that the amount of joy experienced when someone wins $100 is not equal to the consternation suffered when that same person loses $100. Related to this fact are research results indicating that individuals are more willing to take a risk to avoid or minimize a loss than they are if the purpose of the risk is to increase their fortunes. Thus, people who fear a loss will probably be more open to innovation. This finding implies that information emphasizing payback and return on investment, because it stresses the amount of money and energy which can be saved or gained through conservation, is not optimally effective. Telling people how much they can save by investing money in conservation or alternative energy sources encourages people to define this as a “gain” or “win” situation. Once the situation is labelled as such, people express a reluctance to accept risks or depart from the status quo. Thus, this campaign strategy may actually be inadvertently discouraging people from changing their habits of energy use. But if auditors clearly framed energy conservation as the avoidance of loss—by showing residents how much they were losing every month by not investing in alternative energy sources and other conservation measures—one would expect a very different reaction. Once the loss becomes salient, people are encouraged to take more drastic action. A recent study by Yates (1982) provides some direct support for this notion as it relates to energy. Homeowners were asked to evaluate some cost-benefit information about either a solar water heater or an insulating blanket for the water heater. The presentations were designed to focus either on potential savings if the investment was made or on continued losses if the investment was not made. The homeowners evaluated the worth of products on a number of dimensions and indicated their intent to install a device in the coming year. The findings generally confirm the contention that homeowners find energy-efficient technology more attractive when they consider the negative consequences of inaction. Commitment and Choice. The energy auditing process can also make useof what is known about the effects of commitment on action. We have already mentioned research that demonstrates that when people make a public commitment, set themselves an explicit goal, or voluntarily take a small action in accordance with their wishes to conserve energy, they are likely to go on to take more significant action. This can be applied in an

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 96 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, energy audit if some small actions can be taken on the spot. Thus, an energy auditor may show a householder how to install a flow limiter in a shower or how and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. to weatherstrip a window, using materials provided by the audit program. To gain the effects of behavioral commitment, it is important to encourage people to do some of the work themselves. Weatherstripping may be especially effective because it can be used to combine hands-on experience, behavioral commitment, and, using smoke sticks or similar devices, a vivid before-and-after demonstration of effectiveness. Even with small improvements like using weatherstripping material and flow-limiters, an energy audit should give an energy user a choice among actions to take. Allowing a choice increases commitment to the chosen action and also increases the householder’s sense of control over his or her situation. As we have noted, the sense of control has a great effect both on a person’s sense of well- being (e.g., Langer and Rodin, 1976) and on the willingness to accept suggestions from outside authorities (Brehm and Brehm, 1981). Choice has also been an important factor in the adoption of energy- conserving measures, such as the automatic day-night thermostats studied at Princeton University (Becker, Seligman, and Darley, 1979) and the gasoline- saving device the U.S. Army tried and rejected (Thomas et al., 1975). Allowing choice, as with the override mechanism on the automatic thermostat, serves a purpose even if the available choice is never actually made. Choice makes information more acceptable and increases commitment. Involving people in the decision-making process and allowing them more control over their destinies can make an energy audit more effective at the time and encourage further efforts at savings in the future. To summarize, then, to be effective an energy audit has to do much more than provide accurate, reliable, and useful information. The information must be organized to make the auditors credible sources, and the auditors should supplement their accurate information with vivid, personalized examples, hands- on demonstrations, and a choice of activities involving householders that will save energy on the spot. Most of these changes can be made in the audit process easily and inexpensively simply by training the auditors in communication skills. Credibility and Program Design Other problems of energy information, especially the credibility issue, call for efforts beyond training auditors. They require attention to the design of the program. Some of the most attractive features of RCS are its inspection and contractor-listing features—two design elements that build credibility. Still, distrust of the source of energy audits may make it very difficult for audits to be effective, even if they are well publicized, offer accurate information, and make highly sophisticated presentations. Doubt

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 97 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, ful information sources—which probably include many of the utilities responsible for RCS audits—have serious credibility problems that must be overcome if their and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. programs are to be effective. There are several strategies for doing this. One is to achieve cooperation between a low-credibility information source (which may be able to offer a program essential funds and expertise) and another information source that is better trusted by the clientele. The latter will want to be sure its credibility is not damaged by the association with a doubtful source and will, therefore, make demands on the program. But if it comes to accept the audit program as credible, the action of this trusted source should help to communicate trustworthiness to its membership or clientele. This sort of partnership between a utility or other large sponsor and small community groups has been tried with success in Rochester, New York, and is being pursued elsewhere (Talbot and Morgan, 1981). A promising variant of this approach involves building on the systems that already are most effective in providing individuals and households with information about energy-saving activities—informal social networks. A program can gain the considerable benefits of word-of-mouth publicity by using people who are part of local social groups, relying on neighborhood organizations to announce its existence or deliver its services, and doing its publicity or disseminating its services on a local or neighborhood basis. Some programs have used a “Tupperware party” approach, in which energy audit information or installation instructions are delivered to a group of householders meeting in the home of one of them (Olsen and Cluett, 1979; Fitchburg Office of the Planning Coordinator, 1980). This brings neighbors together in a way that can create a network in which people talk about saving energy. Such informal social networks provide highly credible information. They can be incorporated in program design and implementation alone or in combination with other techniques. It is in the interest of an effective program to make sure that the information entering the social networks in any way is accurate. This can be done, for example, by installing energy-monitoring instruments in selected homes for demonstration purposes. Another strategy is to create a new organization to run an audit program. At first such organizations will lack public recognition and may need a lot of publicity, but they can get off to a good start with support from state officials, as they did in Massachusetts and Rhode Island (Rosenberg, 1980). After that, however, they must prove trustworthiness by their performance. A third strategy is to organize a program so as to encourage and ensure good work: strict standards for materials, independent inspection of work resulting from the energy audits, independent conflict resolution mechanisms, and other consumer protection features are examples of useful procedures. Some procedures like these are incorporated in the regulations

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 98 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, for RCS, and some of these have demonstrably increased the effectiveness of programs in encouraging energy-saving activity (Stern et al., 1981). Another and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. procedure to encourage good work is the so-called Bradley Plan being tried in an innovative conservation experiment in New Jersey (Stern et al., 1981). In this plan, a private company offers free energy audits and free energy-saving home improvements to homeowners and earns a return on this investment through payments by the utility companies on the basis of actual energy savings. Although many problems can be anticipated in working out the practical details of this approach, the procedures give the energy service company clear incentives to provide good information and competent installations. A program can increase its credibility if its energy auditors are well trained, if it recommends competent contractors, and if it is structured to reward auditors —and contractors, if they are involved—for accuracy and thoroughness. To produce a high level of participation may take time because distrust can only be removed by an extended record of trustworthiness. But because of the general distrust in energy information, proof of trustworthiness in action is the only way to have an effective energy information program. A fourth way to encourage trustworthiness and build credibility for good programs is to get reliable information to energy users about which energy programs can be trusted. Energy programs may themselves take on the task of demonstrating their trustworthiness to their clients. If a householder can see clearly the effects of his or her actions—preferably in terms of money not lost, the comparison between actual energy costs and what they would have been without action—a program’s effectiveness is vividly demonstrated. It may benefit an effective conservation program to monitor its clients’ energy use before and after participation, and to feed this information back to the household in meaningful units of saving. It is also possible to develop independent institutions to gather and disseminate information about energy programs. For mass-market products, including those that claim to save energy, a credible magazine like Consumer Reports serves this function. For information about energy programs and about the services of contractors who install energy-saving equipment, such a national approach is inappropriate because the services are not national. But it might be possible for similar institutions to be established at the local level. Like Consumer Reports, they would only be credible if they maintained high standards of objectivity and remained free of ties to interests other than those of consumers. It is not clear whether such information sources could be funded by subscribers or would need independent support. But experiments with independent information sources would be valuable because of the obvious need for credible sources of energy information for household energy users.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 99 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, Beyond Credible Information Improved energy audits, even if performed by credible experts, are not sufficient and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. to make a program such as RCS optimally effective. There are other elements needed for an effective residential conservation program, and behavioral knowledge can be useful in designing some of them. In addition to publicity, important issues include assuring consumer protection, promoting trust, eliminating conflicts of interest, certifying contractors, assuring competition and consumer choice among service providers, and establishing effective relations among the organizations whose actions affect the program’s success.19 Even with its organizational needs met and problems of conflict of interest overcome, a program such as RCS would not be enough to produce all the economically justifiable improvements in residential energy efficiency. For example, RCS has not been designed to meet the need for energy efficiency in rental housing, and it does not provide funds for households that lack sufficient money or credit for major energy saving expenses. But attention to the issues discussed here can improve the effectiveness of programs that rely on energy information among households who are able to take advantage of the information. Whether governments will develop or require more effective information programs depends on the definition of a public interest in energy efficiency, allocation of sufficient resources, and willingness to adopt some of the more aggressive approaches that make information more effective. SUMMARY AND IMPLICATIONS Five different views of the individual energy user contain important elements of truth. First, household users are investors; they are motivated to get the services that energy provides at the lowest net cost or to achieve the greatest possible return from investments in energy efficiency. Second, energy users are consumers; their energy-related activities have value to them in terms of comfort, esthetics, and similar goals—not just in financial terms. Third, individuals and households are members of social groups; they get information and ideas from their peers who, by communication and example, can exert considerable influence on energy-related behavior. Fourth, people seek to express their personal values in the things that they do—including things that use energy. Fifth, people try to avoid problems: they often persist in patterns of energy use that are not economically beneficial, but that could be changed only with effort; they tend to make decisions based on simple rules of thumb, confidence in someone else’s advice, or other shortcuts, rather than on the basis of careful analysis. The five views of the energy user draw attention to certain social and psychological processes that are significant for energy use but that have

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 100 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, not figured prominently in past analyses of energy consumption. These include imitation; interpersonal communication from friends and others; the and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. “momentum” of past behavior; the effects of personal choice and commitment; the expression of values; and the activation of norms. Findings from research on these processes indicate that energy policies and programs that rely for their effectiveness on the actions of a large number of people can be improved by taking into account the social and psychological processes of energy users. We have pointed to a series of issues that any effective energy information programs must address. Essentially, an energy information program is a communication process, rather than a simple form of information transfer. This fact has implications for the way information is presented and for the design of energy programs. To be effective, energy information programs should be based on established knowledge about communication processes. While this point seems obvious, most programs to inform individuals and households about energy saving have been poorly constructed as communications vehicles. Energy information should be presented in an attractive format to get attention, and care should be taken to make the information understandable to the intended audience. Vivid, personalized examples are useful to make information memorable, and information is presented most effectively through personal contact. In addition, information should be organized so that it is relevant to a user’s specific concerns, is presented at a time and place that makes it relevant to those concerns, and is delivered by a source that is likely to attract attention and to garner trust. Because of the diversity of energy users and their needs, these requirements usually imply different messages and different information sources for different segments of the public. Information programs are likely to be more effective if they are decentralized to allow for a variety of methods of reaching diverse groups of people. It is also valuable to employ outreach workers or to rely on informal social networks within communities to deliver information. When outreach workers are used, they should receive training in communication skills and in effective methods of communicating. Energy information is more effective when it makes energy and energy savings more visible and understandable to energy users. As was discussedin Chapter 3, to the extent energy flows remain invisible, energy users fail to respond to the signals given by rising energy prices. One way to make energy more visible is to offer frequent and meaningful feedback to energy users about the rate at which they are using energy. The typical utility bill is quite inadequate to this task, as demonstrated by the evidence of how much change can occur when feedback is improved. Cost-effective

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 101 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, alternatives can be developed. Research is needed on how to design utility bills to be more useful as feedback, to develop ways for householders to learn more from and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. reading their own meters, and to design feedback monitors and displays for use in residences, automobiles, and large buildings. Such research should emphasize communicating information in meaningful units and in exciting, eye-catching display formats. The energy efficiency of equipment can also be made more visible by developing simple, understandable indices comparable to miles-per-gallon for automobiles. Further field testing of indices such as energy efficiency ratings for appliances and buildings is warranted because effective indices would decrease the level of effort needed to respond to energy price signals. Energy audits and other informational programs can make energy flows and savings more visible by using vivid demonstrations with smoke sticks or infrared scanners and by using feedback techniques and energy efficiency indices. The question of whether the effort to make energy more visible must be publicly sponsored is still open. We do, however, have some doubts about the likelihood that utilities, which command extensive research resources and are in a particularly good position to make energy visible, will often do so effectively. They have done relatively little in this area so far, and their information programs would conflict with a desire to minimize customer complaints when feedback calls attention to rate increases. Energy information programs must earn public trust. This need must beaddressed in the design of any program. Information can be channeled to potential audiences through sources they find credible. To maintain their credibility these sources should monitor the quality of the information. Procedures and incentives can also be created to encourage information-providers to work in the energy user’s interest. It is also possible to give energy users better ways to make independent judgments—by making energy and energy savings more visible so the effectiveness of programs is more evident; by creating new institutions, on the model of Consumer Reports magazine, to work in the energy users’ interest to evaluate information and energy-related services available at the local level; and by directing the best available information to informal social networks that are highly trusted. Some of our suggestions may also be applicable to other programs. For example, tax-credit programs and low-income weatherization services are like information programs in that they have the same trouble getting the attention of all eligible energy users. Information by itself is not sufficient to bring about all or nearly all the energy-efficient investments that would save households money over the long term. Some of the other significant barriers were outlined in Chapter 3, and others are discussed in Chapter 5.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 102 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, Notes and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. 1. A more detailed discussion of these issues has been presented by Schipper (1976). 2. There remains some confusion in the literature about the definitions of these influences and the relation of each to energy use. For example, Neels (1982) has concluded that in housing, “feasible changes in occupant behavior would reduce energy use only 2 to 5 percent.” This conclusion is based on a regression analysis in which “behavior” was operationalized as energy price, income, household size, number of nonworkers, home ownership, and the presence or absence of an elderly household head. Neels considered these variables behavioral in that they operate through behavior, but they are not in fact behaviors. It is reasonable to expect that measured behavior would have a stronger effect on energy use than these more indirectly related influences. There is evidence to support this view (e.g., Verhallen and van Raaij, 1981). Recent research suggests that several levels of causal influence on energy use exist. Causally earlier influences may act either directly on energy use or indirectly through intervening variables such as housing stocks, general and specific attitudes, and energy-using behavior (Olsen, 1981; Stern, Black, and Elworth, 1982b; Verhallen and van Raaij, 1981). 3. A study by the Office of Policy, Planning, and Analysis (1982) of the Department of Energy found that in residential buildings between 1973 and 1980 curtailments such as temperature setbacks, room shutoffs, and reduced appliance use accounted for three times as much in energy savings as the combination of improved insulation and more efficient heating and cooling equipment and appliances. Yet most estimates suggest that the overall potential savings are greater from efficiency than from curtailment (e.g., Kempton, Harris, Keith, and Weihl, 1982; Stern and Gardner, 1981). The evidence that households’ first responses have been curtailments only underlines the importance of efficiency improvements for achieving further savings. 4. The estimates of energy savings in this study were based on calculations that project the effect of energy-efficiency investments on energy use, rather than on measured energy consumption. The research can also be questioned because it was not a controlled experiment: participation in the program was voluntary, and it is possible that participants had already decided to make major investments in energy efficiency before calling the program. While this may be so, when the statistical analysis

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 103 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, held several economic, demographic, and attitudinal variables constant by regression procedures, the effect of program participation remained strong. and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. 5. Survey research has usually failed to find simple correlations between general environmental concern and energy-using behavior (Farhar et al., 1979; Olsen, 1981). The new evidence points rather to indirect causality, in which general attitudes affect more specific attitudes, beliefs, and norms, with those attitudes then influencing behavior. 6. In some ways, the nuisance and uncertainty involved in shopping for home insulation is not unusual and affects many major purchases for the home. However, the existence of many untested firms in the home energy efficiency business makes anxiety realistic, and the national importance of changing energy prices makes consumer paralysis important as a public issue. 7. This can be seen as an example of a “satisficing” decision strategy, as described by Simon (1957). 8. One might ask whether it is possible for an appeal to be too vivid. The answer is almost always in the negative. The exception occurs when extreme fear is being created, such as when gory pictures of cancerous lungs are used to discourage cigarette smoking. Extreme fear can, under certain specifiable conditions (Higbee, 1969; Leventhal, 1970), tend to immobilize an individual. This is an extremely unlikely occurrence, however, with appeals to save energy. 9. There is a large research literature in social psychology bearing on dissonance phenomena: Irle and Montmann (1978) list 856 separate published articles (largely research publications). 10. Some studies show that energy use was responsive to general social conditions, apart from price, during the 1973–1974 oil embargo (Walker, 1980). Exhortations from government and a general crisis atmosphere probably combined to influence the public at that time. 11. This criterion assumes the view of energy as commodity. Other views of energy imply other goals for government programs—the view of energy as ecological resource, for example, seems to imply encouraging energy users to minimize energy use beyond that dictated by their individual economic self-interest. 12. The data are not always consistent, however; Mutton’s (1982) review of three recent conservation campaigns found no evidence for a linear relationship between repeated exposures of a communication and increased effectiveness.

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 104 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, 13. A payback estimate is obtained by dividing the cost of an investment (e.g., a storm window) by the value of the energy it saves in a year. Although it is an imperfect guide to economic self-interest, it is potentially usable by an average householder. However, it is only one of several possible simple and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. indicators (e.g., annual savings, percentage return on investment), and there is no research comparing the usefulness of different indices. 14. Some variables that might also thought to be important have not been shown to relate to the effectiveness of feedback; these include the use of mechanical versus human sources of the information and, within some range, the units in which the information is presented. Feedback has been about equally effective when delivered in a variety of units: temperature-corrected consumption units, energy use compared to similar households, temperature-corrected dollars-per-day, and so forth. The credibility of the information seems more important than the particular units (Seligman et al., 1981). 15. Problems can arise when the initiative is left to the utilities. In 1974, a New Jersey electric utility started informing residential customers of their present electricity consumption in comparison with weather-corrected consumption from the previous year. The program was initiated to promote energy savings, but it was soon cancelled. What happened was that after a rate increase, many customers used the new information to bolster complaints that even though they were using less energy than before, their bills had increased. Thus, partly because the program succeeded in reducing energy use (Russo, 1977), it was discontinued. Customer reaction might have been different had the utility added information on what the bill would have been without the conservation efforts. As it was, the bill made energy savings visible, but not in the units that were most meaningful to the utility’s customers. 16. While the RCS is more than just an energy audit program—in fact, the energy audit may not be the most important features of the RCS package (Stern et al., 1981)—and RCS energy audits are administered in many different ways around the country, the home energy audit as described in the RCS regulations is prototypical of energy audits in the United States. 17. While the RCS regulations were later revised (Federal Register, June 25, 1982), the 1979 requirements were still being followed in most programs in late 1982 (according to M.Friedrichs, of the Office of Building Energy Research and Development, U.S. Department of Energy).

INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS AS ENERGY USERS 105 About this PDF file: This new digital representation of the original work has been recomposed from XML files created from the original paper book, not from the original typesetting files. Page breaks are true to the original; line lengths, word breaks, heading styles, and other typesetting-specific formatting, however, cannot be retained, 18. In most simple models of rational economic behavior, the cost of travel is the same in both instances, as is the benefit ($5); thus, the cost-benefit ratios are the same. That one item is marked down 33 percent and the other only 4 percent does not make one trip more worthwhile than the other and some typographic errors may have been accidentally inserted. Please use the print version of this publication as the authoritative version for attribution. when economic savings is the sole criterion of value. 19. For more detailed discussion of some behavioral issues in these domains, see Stern, Black, and Elworth (1981).

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