Section 3


Often, the manner of conveying information is just as important as its content. For instance, the usage of a captivating story line incorporated with the intended conservation messages (e.g. energy-saving procedures on heating and cooling during winter and summer respectively) presented in the format of a videotape, proved to be more effective than merely presenting the same messages in writing or a videotape featuring a discussion format (Winett & Kagel, 1984). Overall, the total home energy usage decreased by 10% while total energy consumed by heating and cooling decreased by about 22%.

Consistent immediate feedback coupled with goal-setting can be a determinant in building up energy- saving behaviour as well. McCalley and Midden (2002) explored the potential of “appliance- specific product-integrated energy feedback”, which deviates from the methods of previous studies where aggregated monthly billings were usually the choice of feedback. Results indicated that feedback and goal-setting on a single appliance (e.g. a washing machine) lead to a 21.9% and 19.5% reduction on energy usage in the self-set and assigned goal condition respectively.

The framing of a statement in terms of losses rather than savings appears to have an impact on behaviour as well. Yates (as cited in Stern, 1992) concluded in his study that investment in a water-heater wrap was more forthcoming, when the persuasion was framed in terms of a potential loss of money rather than the savings that could be accrued from using the device. 

 The source of an information also matters when conveying persuasion messages due to the issue of credibility. Craig and McCann (1978) manipulated the source of an energy-saving communication by incorporating a cover letter identified either as originating from Con Edison (a utility company) or the New York State Public Service Commission. Postage paid return cards were also included in the mailing for households to request for a booklet named “104 Ways to Control Your Electric Bill”. Results indicated that households who received the Public Commission Service letterhead were significantly more willing to request for additional materials on energy conservation than those who received the Con Edison letter head.