Rational appeals for efficiency investments

Rational appeals should be presented in a way that is relevant for your target group. Their rationality is not necessarily the same as yours. Many households and businesses require short payback periods (e.g., 3-5 years) for energy efficiency investments and rarely calculate the long-term value of investments (e.g. internal rate of return, net present value).

The investments that you are promoting may be economical in the long term, but people may be concerned about initial costs. They may not have any savings and may be unwilling to incur debt. They may be concerned about the risks of new solutions, while disregarding the risks of the old ones. 

What you need to do: 
  • Reduce time and effort for your target group to find credible information and reliable services
  • Introduce new ways of calculating the profitability of investments, but don’t criticize the old ones
  • Reduce initial costs (e.g. leasing, ESCOs, other finance)
  • Explore sources of capital for those with lack of access
  • Reduce risks of failure (guarantees, certification, etc.)
  • Build on real-life examples that are as similar as possible to your target group.
When does it work?: 
Rational appeals work best when combined with emotional appeals. Rational arguments might not be so important for all people, but they can be very important when people need to explain or justify their action to others. They work best when:
  • the investment is big enough (or several smaller bunched together) to avoid too high relative transaction costs
  • the target group has the money to invest and can tolerate even a 3-5 year's payback period
  • some immediate benefits can be shown
What do you need to look out for: 
► Rational appeals might not work unless they are accompanies with advice and technical support.
► Promises of savings are not so interesting if users can't monitor whether the promised benefits have been achieved.
► Rational appeals might not work if there are other issues influencing the decision, such as uncertainty about the future.