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The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the impact of a competition-based intervention combining high-resolution electricity feedback, incentives, information and…
The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the impact of a competition-based intervention combining high-resolution electricity feedback, incentives, information and prompts on college dormitory residents’ energy consumption and participation in demand response events. The authors also investigated changes in individual-level pro-environmental behaviors and examined psychosocial correlates of behavior change.
Residents of 39 suites in a freshman residence hall competed against one another to reduce energy consumption and win prizes as part of a three-week competition. Feedback was provided in near real-time at the suite-level via an interactive touch-screen kiosk. Participants also completed baseline and follow-up surveys.
Electricity use among all suites was approximately 6.4 per cent lower during the competition period compared to baseline, a significant reduction. Additionally, participants reported engaging in various pro-environmental behaviors significantly more frequently during the competition relative to baseline. Changes in pro-environmental behavior were associated with changes in level of group identification and perceived social norms.
In three weeks, dormitory residents saved 3,158 kWh of electricity compared to baseline – the equivalent of more than 3,470 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. The findings provide evidence that real-time feedback, combined with incentives, information and prompts, can motivate on-campus residents to reduce energy consumption.
The authors contribute to a limited body of evidence supporting the effectiveness of dorm energy competitions in motivating college students to save energy. In addition, the authors identified individual-level behavioral and psychosocial changes made during such an intervention. University residential life planners may also use the results of this research to inform student programming.