Feedback for changing habits

Knowing how much one consumes is essential for energy efficiency and energy conservation. Feedback on energy use can also enhance people’s feeling that they are able to control their energy consumption. However, households or small businesses often cannot make sense of their energy bills. Thus, additional feedback may be needed in the form of meters or informative energy bills. Feedback can also be produced by monitoring project achievements. Improved feedback, in particular when combined with advice on how to reduce energy use, can trigger up to 5-20% electricity savings, depending on how the feedback is provided. The more personalized the feedback is, and the more this is combined with advice on how to reduce consumption, the better the results.

What you need to do: 

Feedback requires a reference point:

  • the end-users' previous energy consumption
  • the consumption of other (households, organizations) that are similar to the end-user
  • the end-users' targets and energy saving achievements
  • the end-users' energy saving achievements vs. those of others
  • information on the reasons for changes in energy consumption (e.g. the disaggregated consumption of different appliances)
When does it work?: 

Feedback can be applied in a wide range of settings. Like many other tools, it is most effective:

  • as part of a broader package of change interventions
  • when people are already motivated
  • when people have the means to change their energy consumption
  • when presented in simple, modest but effective way
  • when combined with advice and support for change
  • for people who are not too stressed out by other problems 
What do you need to look out for: 

Feedback can be less effective if:

►  reductions in energy consumption do not translate into cost savings
►  the target group has no options to significantly influence their energy consumption
►  it leads to information overload