Disaggregated Electricity Consumption: Using Appliance-Specific Feedback to Promote Energy Conservation

Behavioral scientists have studied and created programs using various types of interventions aimed at promoting pro-environmental behavior, including reducing household electricity consumption. Guided by Matthies’ (2005) heuristic model of environmentally relevant behavior, the current study examined the effectiveness of providing appliance-specific (disaggregated) feedback on reducing residential electricity consumption. The primary hypothesis was that households that received this type of feedback would reduce their electricity consumption compared to those in a no-contact control group and those who received an energy-displaying device. A total of 70 households were recruited via mail survey from neighborhoods in Vista, California. After filling out and returning a mailed survey and signing a consent form, households were randomly assigned to receive disaggregated feedback through a website, receive an energy display, or to a no-contact control group. A follow-up survey was administered in order to test two hypotheses and to address a research question. Participants with an in-home display conserved the greatest amount of electricity compared to participants who received access to appliance specific feedback through a website and the no-contact control group. Findings are discussed in the context of the contribution of disaggregated feedback as an intervention strategy aimed at reducing household energy consumption.