Nudging Demand Response, Zaltbommel

  • looptijd: 2015 - 2015
  • locatie: Zaltbommel, Noord-Brabant
  • functie: Energiebewustzijn verhogen
Can we nudge consumers to shift their electricity consumption?
Can we nudge consumers to shift their electricity consumption? And if so, can we stimulate electricity consumption outside peak moments, consequently saving on infrastructural investments for DSOs?

Liander wilde een wijk in Zaltbommel bewegen om deel te nemen aan een demand-response energieproject. Ze kozen voor een nieuwe aanpak.

Via de ‘Nudging’ strategie wilden ze wijkbewoners stapje voor stapje betrekken bij het project met als doel dat bewoners hun energieverbruik zouden gaan aanpassen. De ‘Nudging’ methode werkte. In een relatief korte tijd, zijn veel deelnemers geworven  (bijna 200 in 2 weken! waar we meestal maanden over doen).

Goal

Can we nudge consumers to shift their electricity consumption? And if so, can we stimulate electricity consumption outside peak moments, consequently saving on infrastructural investments for DSOs?

Stimuli

A lot of practical research has been done over the past years in order to find out how smart grids can help society in the transition of sustainable energy systems. Most of these pilots were focused on it technological related innovations, empowering consumers to save energy or shift energy usage. This strategy regards consumers as ‘homo economicus’ using rational stimuli (for example energy prices and consumption figures) for behavioral change with respect to energy consumption.

Nudging also successful in Student Hotels

The nudging approach has also been successful in the Student Hotels: A project from the Wageningen UR in collaboration with Bectro Installatietechniek BVThe Student Hotel, Alliander

Psycholical approch

On the contrary, the scientific field of psychology has proven behavioral change to be most effective if generated on an unconscious level. Thereby digging beyond the rational economic motivators and addressing the intrinsic though subconscious motivation. “Nudging” is the popular therm for this approach, widely used by governmental policy makers in several fields from donor codiciles to student scholarships. A famous example is the artificial fly in the urinal, resulting in subconscious aiming and less cleaning costs.

The question

The question is: could nudging also be effective for behavioral change in the domain of energy consumption?

Partners: 

Adviesbureau Dijksterhuis & van Baaren
Ap Dijksterhuis
T: 024 663 9627
E: info@dbgedrag.nl
Alliander
Jochem Garthoff
T: 06 - 15941167
E: jochem.garthoff@alliander.com

Wordt het voortgezet cq. uitgebreid?

De inzichten die hier zijn opgedaan, met name tav een grotere betrokkenheid van consumenten bij de energietransitie, gaan we gebruiken om nieuwe proposities te verrijken en effectiever te maken.

Can we nudge consumers to shift their electricity consumption?

Nudging

A lot of practical research has been done over the past years in order to find out how smart grids can help society in the transition of sustainable energy systems.

Most of these pilots were focused on it technological related innovations, empowering consumers to save energy or shift energy usage.

On the contrary, the scientific field of psychology has proven behavioral change to be most effective if generated on an unconscious level. Thereby digging beyond the rational economic motivators and addressing the intrinsic though subconscious motivation.

Behaviour

Several techniques from the field of social psychology, which proved to be successful in changing behaviour, were combined in the city of Zaltbommel to stimulate (or ‘nudge’) shifting electricity consumption.

No shift in electricity

Despite the enthusiasm of many participants, proved by the high recruitment rate, unconscious influencing behavior through nudging does not lead to a detectable shift in electricity consumption in this pilot. This seemed to be caused by a lack of personal benefits, feedback and triggers (on- and off-line) to maintain the behavior.

Approach

Several techniques from the field of social psychology, which proved to be successful in changing behaviour, were combined in the city of Zaltbommel to stimulate (or ‘nudge’) shifting electricity consumption. “Commitment and consistency” was in essence the approach, consisting of:

  1. Consistency ‘foot in the door’: ask a small favor and a big one later on the same topic;
  2. Social pressure: set a norm value participants identify with stimulating behavioral change to meet this norm;
  3. Implementation Intentions: ‘enforce’ commitment by literally making participants sign an intention agreement;
  4. Triggers: supply constant reminders of the preferred behaviour.

Triggers 

During the first round participants were asked to place a small sticker at their doorbell if they sympethised with ‘a sustainable neigbourhood’. Two weeks later, participants who agreed on placing a sticker, were asked to participate on shifting electricity consumption with, among other triggers, the help of a “sustainability traffic light” in the form of 3d printed globe

Method

The effects on behavioral change were measured in a qualitative and quantitative way:

  • Qualitative measurement: by interviewing the participants after four weeks from the start
  • Quantitative measurement: by analyzing the effects on the collective low voltage cables by a two sample t-test.

These quantitative measurement was both compared historically and with a control group.

Results

 Qualitative measurements

  • Very cost effective recruitment: 170 participants within two weeks!;
  • Implementation intentions leads to a 20% increased usage of the “sustainability traffic light”;
  • Participants barely experienced having shifted their electricity use of the ‘big four’ (washing machines, dishwashers, television, vacuum cleaner);
  • Participants regarded the approach as an original visual perception on sustainability, facilitating the discussion with family members, neighbors and friends.

Quantitative measurements

  • Historical trend analysis (two-sample t-test) only shows a decrease for one cable compared to the expected energy demand in the evening peak;
  • This effect is only an indication of possible behavior change by the intervention, as similar deviations from multi-day trends in the past and the control group have occurred. Therefore the influence of other factors can’t be excluded.

Conclusions

Despite the enthusiasm of many participants, proved by the high recruitment rate, unconscious influencing behavior through nudging does not lead to a detectable shift in electricity consumption in this pilot.

Powerful strategy to empower

However the approach was experienced both original as fun, proved by the high recruitment rate and the fact that hardly any participant was willing to return the ‘3D printed sustainability traffic light’ after the project. The combination of a rational approach with nudge elements can therefore be a powerful strategy to empower consumers saving energy or shifting energy usage.

Several techniques from the field of social psychology, which proved to be successful in changing behaviour, were combined in the city of Zaltbommel to stimulate (or ‘nudge’) shifting electricity consumption. ‘Commitment and consistency’ was in essence the approach, consisting of:

  1. Consistency ‘foot in the door’: ask a small favor and a big one later on the same topic
  2. Social pressure: set a norm value participants identify with stimulating behavioral change to meet this norm
  3. Implementation Intentions: “enforce” commitment by literally making participants sign an intention agreement
  4. Triggers: supply constant reminders of the preferred behavior

Link to the Consumers behavior whitepaper ‘Gedrag: zo betrek je bewoners’

Alliander

  Martijn Bongaerts   alliander.com    Martijn.Bongaerts@alliander.com    06 27024513