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The Green Nudge

28th June 2015

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The nudge theory is the idea that you can influence people positively by appealing to their conscience and emotions. When it comes to reducing energy consumption, the nudge effect has always come into play.

Traditionally, many thought that price factors were the main influence on consumer behaviour, however recent research has shown that social influence also impacts behaviour when it comes to energy usage and waste; dubbed the Green Nudge.

Opower in the USA tapped into the power of social comparison and nudge theory when presenting energy usage reports to customers. The aim was to influence household energy consumption by providing information on the households’ use of energy relative to the 100 nearest houses of similar size. As a result of the direct comparison to neighbours, those who participated reduced their energy consumption by an average of 1.9-2% – imagine the impact of this reduction if this was rolled out across the whole of the USA!

The key finding from the research is that people have a conditional preference to follow their peers and social norms, adjusting their behaviour to match that of others, even in energy usage.

At NetThings, we think the Green Nudge is just what businesses and homes need to start managing and controlling operating costs and energy waste. Given that up to 46% of energy is used out with business hours, just imagine the outcome if your employees started turning off unnecessary appliances simply because their colleagues did so?