They monitored the power used by each household and then wrote each homeowner a note comparing their consumption with the neighbourhood average.
Ok, so far so good.
A week later households with above-average power usage had reduced it significantly – but those with below-average usage had increased theirs
The researchers found that the low-energy users could be prevented from using more power simply by drawing a smiley face on the notes to indicate that conserving energy carries approval.
I always thought that simply giving people the data on consumption would probably be enough to convince them to change their behaviour.
What I forget is that without a carbon tax, there simply isn’t any real financial incentive to conserve energy. Happily, we all feel like conservation is something that PEOPLE SHOULD DO, so peer pressure can be introduce with more data. Notice the pressure is implied, nobody actually has to know what others consume.