The strong effects of descriptive normative feedback (“how you compare to others”) on an individual’s electricity consumption have been documented in the IS literature. Here, we extend prior research on reference group effects (“whom to compare with”) by defining the relevance of the reference group in terms of similarity in contextual factors as opposed to personal characteristics. Specifically, we manipulate the spatial proximity of reference groups and test whether population density moderates the effects of feedback. In a field study with 560 energy customers, we find that reference groups that are close in terms of geographical proximity are more effective than more distant groups. However, population density does not moderate this effect. Designer of green information systems should therefore use reference groups that are close to the energy consumer with regard to geographical proximity, but they do not need to tailor the intervention to the energy consumer’s location.
The personal transport sector constitutes an important target of energy conservation and emission reduction programs. In this context, eco-feedback technologies that provide information on the driving behavior have shown to be an effective means to stimulate changes in driving in favor of both, reduced costs and environmental impact. This study extends the literature on eco-feedback technologies as it demonstrates that a smartphone application can improve fuel efficiency even under conditions where monetary incentives are not given, i.e. where the drivers do not pay for fuel. The field test, which took place with 50 corporate car drivers, demonstrates an improvement in the overall fuel efficiency by 3.23%. The theoretical contribution underlines the assumption that context-related feedback can favorably influence behavior even without direct financial benefits for the agent. Given the large share of corporate cars, findings are also of high practical importance and motivate future research on eco-driving feedback technologies.
Hot water usage accounts for 16% of household demand for energy, much more than lighting and cooking (5% each) and is comparable to electricity usage for appliances (21%). As a means of helping consumers to save hot water, we present a novel self-powered water consumption sensor that enables direct consumption feedback. We equipped 91 Swiss households with the sensors and recorded 3,164 individual showers during the period of three months. The presence of feedback during a shower resulted in the reduction of average shower water consumption from 79 l to 61 l (-22.2%) per day and household. In addition to savings attributable to already installed flow restrictors, an average household could conserve 6,400 l of drinking water and 210 kWh of heat energy (projected to one year). Furthermore, we show that the effects of direct feedback on water consumption did not decline over the course of the study.