To avoid harmful climate effects, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced and reach net-zero by 2050 (Tsiropoulos, Nijs, Tarvydas, & Ruiz, 2020). As households represent over 30 percent of global energy consumption, reducing household energy consumption, and thus carbon emissions is an essential part of the decarbonization efforts. We study the effect on household energy decisions of providing information and social cues, also referred to as “nudges” (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008) in Armenia, a developing country. Developing countries are precisely the countries where the most rapid growth in energy consumption is observed, and many results and outcomes observed in the Western world proved to be hard to replicate in the context of developing countries (Henrich et al., 2010).
The household energy decisions are their rates of energy consumption (and their resulting energy payments) and their investments in energy-saving appliances. We therefore will collect over a period of 12 weeks the information on the rates of energy consumption (electricity) and their purchases of energy-saving appliances. We ask the households the information regarding their electricity consumption twice a month during the 3 months (making it six times in total). We also ask them about their purchases of energy-saving appliances by the end of the treatment period (once). In addition, we collect socio-economic information. See the full list of variables collected under Outcomes and below this abstract. The questionnaires will be done by the market research company IMR based in Yerevan.
The research will focus on people living in Yerevan, in the capital of Armenia. To avoid possible interference by the type of agency problems that occur by renters, the research is focused exclusively on house owners. We strive for a total of 600 participants, though the number may be smaller because of non-response or attrition. A total of 600 participants will be randomly and evenly distributed over 3 treatments. The randomization is done on the level of participants. We will block for the special category people that receive a lowered energy rate (in case any of the participants fall in that category). The randomization is done by a Python computer program, using the NumPy module and a seed equal to 123456 to generate random assignments. The randomization is done privately, but as it is documented it can be replicated.
In our treatments, we provide the households with peer comparison reports of their energy consumption and associated costs. The peer comparison reports reflect the average values of similar households.
Specifically, there are three treatments. For all treatment, the relevant information will be recorded concerning energy consumption and other information. The first treatment is the control treatment (C) and only the relevant information will be recorded. The second treatment is the social comparison treatment (S). The households are given feedback in the form of the average of similar households’ consumption and the difference with their own consumption. The third treatment is the social comparison with a focus on monetary savings (SM). The households are given the same feedback as in Treatment S (the average of similar households’ consumption and the difference with their own consumption), but, in addition, the potential or realized monetary savings relative to the average of similar households’ expenditure.
Outcomes (End Points):
The main outcomes are:
1. the electricity consumption
2. the gas consumption
3. the set of energy-saving appliances
The full list of variables are:
Type of dwelling:
Apartment in multi-family building/ Single-family home
Size of the dwelling in square meters
Number of rooms within the dwelling
Connection to the central gas networks
Connection to the central cold-water networks
Connection to the central electricity networks
Connection to the central heating networks
Connection to the central hot-water networks
Natural gas consumption
Solar panels installed
Any other energy efficiency upgrades.
Main source of water heating: Gas heating/Electric heating/Central delivery of hot water /Solar Panels/Using Stove on solid fuels (if solid fuel which one?).
Main source of heating the dwelling: Gas heating/Electric heating/Central heating/Solar Panels/Using Stove on solid fuels (if solid fuel which one?).
Household size (number of people)
Number of working-aged adults (18-65)
Number of working adults
Number of seniors (65+)
Number of children (0-18)
Household monthly expenditure
Household monthly income
Receiving discounts/benefits for utilities (yes/no, the amount in drams)
Does your family own a car? (How many if yes).
If any household members have current consumer credits with banks or not? (yes/no, amount in drams)
Education of the household head:
Higher education (BSc, MSc, DiS)
Have you bought any home appliances in the last 12 months? (yes/no, which appliances?)
Air Conditioner (age in years)
Dishwasher (age in years)
Refrigerator (age in years)
Washing machine (age in years)
Microwave (age in years)
Food Processor (age in years)
Blender (age in years)
Electric cooking stove (age in years)
LCD TV (age in years)
CRT TV (age in years)