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Nudging Pro-Environmental Behavior in Field Experiments

The Case of Residential Energy Conservation

Carbon dioxide emissions from electricity and heat production in Egypt have increased more than three folds over the past four decades according to the International Energy Agency. Meanwhile, electricity consumption per capita has been continuously rising with the residential sector being responsible for the largest consumption share as well as for the fastest increase in electricity consumption. This emphasizes the importance of effective residential electricity demand management for achieving the country’s sustainable development targets (and therefore also the UN SDGs, especially SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production).

The phase-out of electricity subsidies and the introduction of pre-paid meters to homes have constituted the core of the Egyptian government’s efforts at managing electricity demand. The reliance on such traditional economic instruments in reducing electricity demand despite being theoretically and empirically sound is costly and is often faced with public resistance. Here comes the role of nudge instruments; as being low-cost interventions that subconsciously target individuals’ intrinsic motivation to conserve energy makes them hold great potential for success. 


The research will investigate the effectiveness of different behavioral nudge tools in promoting energy conservation behavior by running a field experiment on university dorm residents. The effectiveness of providing conservation tips, the use of energy-saving prompts, providing individual feedback on past consumption levels, goal setting, peer comparisons and injunctive feedback shall be assessed. The research will also lay a focus on possible differences in the effectiveness of behavioral nudge tools between Egypt and Germany.


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