Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #714

Social Norms and Energy Conservation Beyond the US

by Mark A. Andor, Andreas Gerster, Jörg Peters and Christoph M. Schmidt

RGS, RUB, RWI, 10/2017, 23 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-833-2 DOI: 10.4419/86788833



The seminal studies by Allcott and Mullainathan (2010), Allcott (2011), and Allcott and Rogers (2014) suggest that social comparison-based home energy reports (HER) are a cost-effective non-price intervention to stimulate energy conservation. The present paper demonstrates the context-dependency of this result. We show that, outside the US, electricity consumption levels and carbon intensities are typically much lower and, hence, HER interventions can only become cost-effective when treatment effect sizes are substantially higher. Yet, our evidence from a large-scale randomized controlled trial in Germany suggests that effect sizes are actually much lower than in the US.

JEL-Classification: D12, D83, L94, Q41

Keywords: Social norms; energy demand; external validity; randomized field experiments; non-price interventions