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The Precourt Institute for Energy is part of the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability.

Human Behavior & Energy Use

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Technology and regulation play a role in reducing energy waste, but their success is often determined by individual and organizational behavior. One large research project at Stanford applied experimental approaches from public health and other fields experienced with behavior change to design and evaluate numerous interventions to promote energy-saving behaviors. Researchers in this project developed a program with the Girl Scouts for reducing residential energy use; a messaging system for utilities using social norms and goal setting as motivators; Facebook apps using affective, cognitive and social carrots; an online game linked to home energy use; and virtual reality simulations that connected specific energy behaviors and environmental consequences. Other research topics include behavior selection and plasticity; tests of adoption, real-time feedback, neural mechanisms and emotions in decision making; nudges like ecolabeling; and the interaction of environmental learning and energy behavior.