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Incentivizing tenants to reduce heating energy consumption: A field study
Last registered on April 03, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Incentivizing tenants to reduce heating energy consumption: A field study
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003856
Initial registration date
February 05, 2019
Last updated
April 03, 2019 4:42 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Neuchatel
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Neuchatel
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2018-12-01
End date
2019-04-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This field experiment quantifies the impact of a social comparison feedback intervention to promote responsible heating energy consumption among a group of tenants. Using data for indoor temperature collected by a set of smart thermostats, participating households are informed about how their average indoor temperature in December 2018 compares to average temperature of their peers (i.e. observationally similar households observed during the same period of time).

Aside from a control group that does not receive the information, we randomly allocate households across three conditions. First, in the baseline treatment, the social comparison information is provided without context, which is the usual approach in alternative field studies (e.g. Allcott and Rogers, AER 2014). In the second, third and fourth conditions, social comparison information is accompanied by additional information about the landlord behavior.

While the baseline condition provides evidence about the impact of social comparison in this specific context, the two additional treatments will enable us to document the role of information about supply-side behavior in the context of social information feedback interventions.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Kandul, Serhiy and Bruno Lanz. 2019. "Incentivizing tenants to reduce heating energy consumption: A field study." AEA RCT Registry. April 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3856-3.0
Former Citation
Kandul, Serhiy and Bruno Lanz. 2019. "Incentivizing tenants to reduce heating energy consumption: A field study." AEA RCT Registry. April 03. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3856/history/44572
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2019-01-25
Intervention End Date
2019-02-28
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The key outcome variable is the change in average indoor temperature/humidity levels over time, comparing tenants in alternative conditions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We are interested in whether tenants contact us to complain / withdraw from the study, and see if it differs across treatments, and also if the choice of the person contacted (e.g. male vs. female) matters to induce energy saving efforts.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Participants for this experiment are the tenants living in the buildings managed by our partner, the real-estate agency (the landlord thereafter). Participating tenants are contacted via regular mail, one letter at the end of January 2019 with information about their indoor temperature levels in the previous month (December 2018). Irrespective of the experimental condition, all the letters contain information about the indoor temperature levels and the energy saving tips. The treatment-specific information in the letters vary according to the experimental condition (see section "Interventions").

Importantly, participants are not offered any financial compensation. The intervention is purely informational, and is done as a collaboration with the landlord who wishes to find ways to communicate with their tenants.

Based on the previous work on social comparison feedback, we expect that tenants who learn that their temperature is above the average would tend to adjust their behavior towards the "norm." In order to prevent good-performing tenants (the ones with the below-the-average indoor temperatures) to increase their indoor temperature, we include social approval in forms of smiley faces.

All the letters are accompanied with a small questionnaire where participants can react to the letter, list heating appliances that are not provided by the landlord, as well as an opt-out form where participants could explicitly deny the usage of their temperature data for the purpose of the study.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Random number generator randomized individual households into each of the four treatment conditions. Within each household, one randomly selected tenants is chosen as a recipient of the letter. The control condition was selected beforehand based on the building level data.
Randomization Unit
Individual household (between the treatments), group level randomization (treated vs. control)
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
30 buildings in the treatment conditions, and 15 buildings in the control.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We contacted 623 households in the treated condition (156 in three of the treatments and 155 in one of the treatments), and 232 households in the control.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
156 households in each of the three treatment arms, 155 in one of the treatment arm (30 buildings in total)
232 households in the control (15 buildings in total).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
January 30, 2019, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
March 29, 2019, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
855 apartments
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
831 apartments
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
232 - control, 150 treatment-1, 154 - treatment 2, 146 - treatment 3, and 150- treatment 4
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers