Evaluation of road shows and outreach exhibitions

In Singapore, road shows and outreach exhibitions promoting energy conservation often feature a variety of private companies advertising energy-efficient appliances (E2 Singapore, 2010). Such an arrangement facilitates convenience for the general public looking for a platform to browse for energy- saving household appliances. This is essential as ensuring convenience can decide whether one would adopt energy conservation behaviour. Houten, Nau and Merrigan (1981) manipulated the degree of convenience to use the elevator by adding a door delay mechanism and discovered that as inconvenience increased, the number of people using the elevator decreased. This suggests that a convenient access to conservation information and assistance is necessary to promote energy conservation behaviour.

However, convenience alone sometimes does not guarantee the purchase of energy efficient appliances. One often overlooked aspect of human nature is that we abhor wastage, especially wastefulness that is perceived as an underutilization of a purchased item. This has negative implication when we implore people to purchase new appliances without addressing this part of their reasoning. Arkers (1996) demonstrated the power of wastefulness on influencing consumer purchase decision. The experiment tested on the participant’s willingness to purchase a new tax-computation computer program, as the old program which had been recently purchased only last year, has been rendered obsolete by a change in tax laws. Price discounts were given in two different conditions: 1) Subjects were given an up-front $30 reduction for the new computer program priced at $80. 2) Subjects were given the option to trade-in their old computer program for a $30 price reduction off the new computer program priced at $80. Notice that even though both groups had to pay an equal sum of money for the new computer program, subjects in the second condition were significantly more willing to purchase the new program. This is because the “trade-in” condition diminished the notion of wastefulness by allowing the old program to be fully utilized. Therefore, the take home message for road shows and outreach exhibitions promoting energy efficient technological choices is to design a purchase scheme which includes measures to counteract the notion of wastefulness, while ensuring convenient access to this information.

Governmental agencies (e.g. The National Environment Agency/ Housing and Development Board) leading the organization and implementation of these road shows and outreach exhibitions has also lend credibility to the conservation messages being advocated within the events. The importance of assuring the credibility of the source of information given to encourage conservation efforts has already been elaborated in earlier sections (refer to section 4: Information). The endorsing of energy-efficient household appliances by the government through the awarding of “energy label” also serves to confer credibility to the products being advertised by private vendors.

An improvement to road shows and outreach exhibitions in their efforts to promote energy conservation would be to explore the feasibility of enabling their audience to make a public commitment to conserve energy. Pallak, Cook and Sullivan in their energy conservation study, investigated the relationship between the degree of commitment made by the participants and the amount of energy conserved. They discovered that households who made a public commitment (e.g. allowing the researchers to publish their names) had a lower rate of increase in the consumption of natural gas and electricity than households in the private commitment and control condition. Furthermore, the effect observed still persists 12 months later. Harnessing the power of public commitment in changing behaviour could be a good complement to financial incentives which is less effective in generating long-term effects (refer to section1: Motivation).



We have finally come to the end of the series of entries on road shows and outreach exhibitions in promoting energy conservation. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as I have enjoyed writing it. Do leave your comments at the “home” page if you have any questions regarding the entries. Cheers.