A "nudge" to save energy

Behavioural science and the politicos buzz word "nudging" are becoming an ever present part of our society. The basic premise is that instead of using pure utilitarian incentives such as taxes and fines to force people to make behavioural changes, a simple "nudge" exploiting our human biases will do the trick. 

nudge.jpgIs Big Brother nudging you? (image credit: sebarex - stock.xchng)

The results of this technique were demonstrated in Amsterdam airport in 1999, in a bid to save money on keeping the men's toilet clean. Instead of putting up signs reminding the patrons to "aim straight", economist Aad Kieboom suggested etching a picture of fly in each urinal. They tried it and the cleaning bill fell by 80% (New Scientist - Nudge: You're being manipulated – have you noticed?).

However the technique isn't relegated to the toilets of the world and it's success can be seen everyday in supermarkets, separating shoppers from their money by helping them make impulse purchases. Chocolate bars at the checkout anyone?

Now these techniques are being used to increase awareness and reduce energy use. The following TED talk by Alex Laskey, "how behavioural science can lower your energy bill" demonstrates how sharing information about your community can make huge savings.

This all fits nicely into the plan for this very own website. By comparing your energy use with others in your community, neighbourhood or even strangers on a website, we hope here at "how green am i ?" that we can help you save energy, money and ideally the planet.