WP-041: Erica Myers and Mateus Souza "Social Comparison Nudges Without Monetary Incentives: Evidence from Home Energy Reports" (Revised March 2019)
We explore the mechanisms driving the effectiveness of a widely-used behavioral intervention that reduces energy consumption by repeatedly mailing social comparison-based home energy reports (HERs) to households. With a randomized controlled trial, we introduce HERs in a college residence, where tenants do not pay energy bills. Our results indicate that HERs induced almost no behavioral changes for heating demand, with precise estimates that allow us to rule out thermostat changes greater than 0.36oF. This suggests that behavioral channels, such as competitiveness, social norms, or moral suasion, may not motivate conservation in the absence of direct monetary incentives.