Two different types of behaviour

There are two different types of behaviour that you can target with your programme. Ideally, you would want to influence both types of behaviour to achieve the maximal impact. The choice to target either one or both behaviours has implications for the tools and instruments you need to use (see Step 8: Select and adapt your instruments and  Step 10: Engage your Target Group for examples).
The two types of behaviour are:
  1. Efficiency investment behaviour. This behaviour is a one-shot action. As such it is a clearly identifiable individual event, which usually involves some amount of information processing prior to the action. If you target this type of behaviour you are trying to influence how people make decisions and you usually also want your target group to invest money. Once you are successful in targeting the efficiency/ investment behaviour, the effects of this behaviour are durable since investments are usually less easy to reverse (e.g. additional insulation will probably remain in the house even after it is sold). The downside is that there is less room for experimentation. The key challenge is that you need to get it right from the start.
  2. Habitual or ‘curtailment’ behaviour. This type of behaviour usually entails unconscious decisions, routines. Routines are activities that are repeated frequently and without conscious thinking. If you target curtailment behaviour, your aim is to create routines, new repetitive efforts to reduce energy use such as turning off lights or appliances when not in use or taking shorter showers. Because such behaviours are not conscious, they are more difficult to influence through conventional tools like information. On the other hand, changes in curtailment behaviours can usually be realised at lower cost. However, it takes time to create a new routine, and the risk is therefore that if insufficient time is taken, the behaviour easily reverses back to the old unsustainable routine.  The key challenge is thus that you need to get the changed behaviour to ‘stick’. 
Of course, there are ‘grey’ areas which can be either a routine or an investment, for example purchasing light bulbs or lowering room temperatures, which can be done once with a thermostat and will stay that way at least until someone else readjusts it.

 Practical examples

  1. Efficiency investment behaviour can entail investing in energy-saving devices, equipment or appliances (a new heating system, meters, thermostats, etc.), or the wheatherisation of a home. 
  2. Habitual or ‘curtailment’ behaviour entails turning off lights, equipment or appliances when not in use, taking shorter showers, keeping room temperatures low, doing full loads of laundry at low temperatures.