Moving Beyond Feedback: Testing different aspects of energy information

Funding Body Department of Marketing (University of Otago); Mercury Energy
Start Date June 2011
End Date
May 2013
Principal Investigator(s)
Dr. Rebecca Ford

Brief Abstract

This Postdoctoral Fellowship is hosted at CSAFE.

The aim of the project is to identify an appropriate type and presentation of “energy information” to enable individuals to better understand, interact, and manage (reduce) their energy consumption. This will lead to improved consumer energy literacy, improved customer engagement, and ultimately improved customer satisfaction.

This project defines energy information as information related to the direct energy consumption of the household and, specifically for this research, limit the definition of energy consumption to electricity. Traditionally, approaches to encourage reductions in domestic consumption involve antecedent interventions including commitments, goal-setting, information, modelling, and consequence interventions of feedback and rewards.

Consequence strategies, particularly feedback, have received the most attention in recent years, and whilst feedback is generally successful at encouraging consumers to better manage their energy consumption, the effectiveness is broadly associated with the frequency with which feedback is given; the clarity, vividness, and specificity of the information; whether it is accompanied by a comparative context; the duration for which it is provided; the granularity of the data; and whether the feedback is interactive and technology driven. Despite these general trends, there is still a huge amount of variation in savings made by consumers under different feedback strategies.

Whilst the content (the "what") of the feedback is important, we propose that the delivery mechanism (the "how") is also salient, yet it has received almost no attention in this space. This area is something that this research project aims to address across both types of intervention strategy, which we re-label as feedforward and feedback. We define feedforward strategies as those strategies that aim to enable changes in energy-related behaviour by providing action plans. This includes actionable advice, commitments, and goal setting, as well as the sharing of ideas. We define feedback strategies as those that allow users to gain a greater understanding of their energy consumption and the consequences of their actions. These include the provision of information about household energy consumption, comparative context, and competitions.

This project is broken down into three parts to deal with different aspects of feedforward and feedback information. These are:

  1. The effect of feedback visualisations on energy literacy, emotional attachment, behaviour intent, and energy consumption.
  2. The effect of personalised actionable advice, goal settings, and commitments on behaviour.
  3. The effect of social networks on energy-related behaviour.

Each of these aspects of energy information will affect how individuals interact with their energy consumption, and the results from each part will guide the development of an intervention that incorporates these multiple strategies to enable individuals to better understand, interact, and manage their energy consumption.


Publications and guidelines for the development of an interactive platform that individuals may use to access their energy consumption data.