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Omar AsensioOmar Asensio
University of California, Los Angeles

The Dynamics of Behavior Change: Evidence from Energy Conservation

Little is known about the effect of message framing on conservation behavior over time. In a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with residential consumers, we test how different messages about household energy use impact the dynamics of conservation behavior down to the appliance level. We find that effectiveness of repeated messages on conservation behavior varies with the framing of these messages. Using a health-based frame, in which consumers consider the human health effects of their marginal electricity use, induced persistent energy savings behavior; whereas using a more traditional cost savings frame, drove sharp attenuation of treatment effects over time. Our results suggest that health-based considerations have greater longevity versus small monetary rewards in meeting energy conservation goals. We discuss implications of our findings for the design of effective information campaigns to engage consumers on household consumption decisions.


Omar I. Asensio is a doctoral candidate and National Science Foundation (NSF) IGERT Fellow at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He studies technological and behavioral change in U.S. electricity markets. His research focuses on the design of incentives for energy efficiency and conservation at the individual and organizational level. He conducts randomized controlled trials (RCT) and develops statistical and computational models of energy and behavior with non-price, information strategies. He is an affiliated researcher at the UCLA Center for Corporate Environmental Performance (CCEP) and the California Center for Sustainable Communities (CCSC). He is currently conducting an analysis of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge for the City of Los Angeles, focused on commercial sector buildings.

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