Study: Decisions to stay in energy-conservation programs hinge on perception, not reality

Nicole and Lee recently published a study on individuals’ perception of savings while participating in energy-conservation programs. The program in question is based on a time-of-use (TOU) rate structure, which is designed to shift electricity use from times with high demand and high costs, to times with low demand and low cost. Interestingly, their study found that, most often, the savings that followed due to participants’ conscious energy use was minimal at best. Participants’ perceptions of the savings were driving their involvement in such programs, not the actual savings. Additionally, their study found that people who were more informed about the TOU rate structure were less likely to stay in the program. This could mean that, while these programs are effective, the divide between perceived savings and actual savings could inhibit programs’ true energy conservation goals.


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