Use competitions

Competition is a variation of goal-setting, feedback and social support/pressure. It also introduces an element of ‘game’ or ‘fun’ to energy saving. Competitions link energy conservation to the emotional motives of pride and achievement. Competitions can serve to raise awareness and generate publicity.

What you need to do: 

You can use competitions for various purposes:

  • Just stimulating interest and awareness: e.g. competitions for households or schoolchildren for energy saving ideas
  • Getting people on board and introducing energy saving practices: e.g. reality-TV competitions for households or entire towns to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
  • Actually stimulating energy conservation: e.g. the Energy Trophy competition in which offices throughout Europe competed in reducing their energy use
When does it work?: 

Many people like to compete and be acknowledged for excelling. According to our experience, competitions work best in organizations, where there is some kind of social context. However, people can also ‘compete against themselves’. Competitions can be useful:

  • if it is possible to provide clear rules for the competition (e.g. fair performance indicators)
  • when the aim is to raise awareness and enhance visibility
  • as part of a broader package of interventions
What do you need to look out for: 

►  Rules should be fair, and it can be quite difficult to design good competitions.
►  Consider carefully what message your competition will be sending to those who win and to those who lose.
►  Competitions can draw attention and raise initial motivation, but they rarely lead to durable change, and can loose their effect if repeated.