According to the Wall Street Journal, it's one of the best ways.

"It isn't financial incentives. It isn't more information. It's
guilt....Studies dating back at least three decades clearly show the
power of social norms. We tend to ascribe our actions to more
high-minded motives, or to practical concerns about money. But at its
core, our behavior often boils down to that old mantra: Monkey see,
monkey do. Researchers are now learning how to harness that instinct to
nudge us to go green."

So how can we in the home performance industry use peer pressure to motivate our next customer?

Will developments like the Home Energy Scorecard introduced by Vice President Biden this week, which allow homeowners to see how they compare to their neighbors, help or hinder?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704575304575296243891...

PS: I originally posted this in the BPI group, but had a request to re-post it here.

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Out here in Puget Sound, there are certain neighborhoods where the "Green Guilt" kicks in very heavily. We are fairly environmentally conscious here in Western Washington anyway... something about the beauty of the nature, I suppose! It gets under your skin and into your blood... even for transplants. Likewise, I think that there are neighborhoods that have no motivation other than "Keeping up with the Joneses" for a pure social perception standpoint. Still, the most effective motivation that I have seen is far more personal... the wallet! (Especially with recent economic conditions.) At a certain point, I have seen neighbor after neighbor get fed up with utility bills... gas.. electric... and sometimes even water. When they realize that they can keep a little extra money in the bank every month... and that it sometimes adds up to an extra vacation a year... or a new toy in the garage or in the house... they move in a positive direction... making a change in their personal habits, and taking a long, hard look at the homes they live in.

I think that the Home Energy Scorecard will have play in some neighborhoods and areas, and go completely unnoticed in others. It is definitely something that local Comunity Action Programs may be able to rally around to a certain extent, however. It will be interesting to see what kind of "friendly competitions" develop.
I suspect they'll help, as this builds directly from the notion of benchmarking as a motivational device. People want to know how they compare to the Jonses. Instead of comparing lawn sizes, how about comparing duct leakage rates? ;)

More here on Home Energy Score Program and Scoring Tool.

A set of 10 Pilot Projects will be run to learn more about how consumers react to the information. Bring your deas and questions to the Pilot Projects discussion grou...
Bingo on this observation, Evan:

"how about comparing duct leakage rates? ;)"

Based on numbers I'm sure many of us have seen, it's amazing any conditioned air is getting into occupied spaces at all !

Journey into "off topic" land..

No wonder critters move into attics, crawl spaces, etc. when the weather breaks bad. A small opening where the cable guy had to go through my CS vent screen ultimately had me vacuuming mouse droppings off the stem walls for several hours :-(. No longer have a crawl space, but that's a story for another time (yep, same house).

Which reminds me...anyone else ever notice what a great giveway spider webs are for finding air leaks? Those rascals know the most productive place to set up shop and in addition to crawl space vents (too easy), I've noticed them hanging out in unexpected locations, with an air leak invariably nearby.
Steve, the spider web trick was one of the first things Tony Woods taught me when I started learning and writing about home performance years ago. It's very true, too. Since we sealed our house we have almost no webs.

Going back to the peer pressure as motivational tool, has anyone ever tried using that kind of messaging in a neighborhood where a job is just completed? I'm seeing a lawn sign put up that says something like 'This home is now 20% more energy efficient thanks to XYZ company.' You'd need a really satisfied customer who liked talking to the neighbors to pull it off, though.
I love the spider web trick - :)
Also know as "The Arachnid Air Leak Detector"


Caron Electric said:
I love the spider web trick - :)
A number of presenters at the recent Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference (BECC) in Sacramento would agree that peer pressure is a huge motivator, especially for Democrats (see my recent blog entry, "Democrats More Prone to Guilt").

But I agree with Michael Stewart that $ may be an even bigger motivator. If the price of oil, gas, and electricity went up by a factor of 3 next year, there probably wouldn't be a need for a BECC conference.


Jim Gunshinan said:
A number of presenters at the recent Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference (BECC) in Sacramento would agree that peer pressure is a huge motivator, especially for Democrats (see my recent blog entry, "Democrats More Prone to Guilt").

But I agree with Michael Stewart that $ may be an even bigger motivator. If the price of oil, gas, and electricity went up by a factor of 3 next year, there probably wouldn't be a need for a BECC conference.

I concur. I have been observing various trends over the years and trying to see which ones make peoples' hearts go pitter-pat. At first, I thought: because it's the right thing to do! Ha. Then it was "save money". I don't actually think it's this simple -- while a business can say "I'll invest in PV because we expect an 8 year IRR", homeowners are far more protective of their cash -- "payback period" needs to be incredibly short to get people to respond. I was persuaded of the idea of competitions for a while, but after I offered to buy and install energy monitors for 8 homes that we part of my town's green movement, and got no takers, I began to realize the degree to which there is apathy out there. Some studies do show that bills saying "You're not doing as well as your neighbors" were effective. And of course we could pass a few laws to publicly shun wasters.

But in the end, it's that "tipping point" thing that happened in 2006 and on: oil prices spiked, gas prices went over $4/gallon and people woke up as a group. More happened as a result of that event than has happened in decades. Oil has been creeping up lately, and is back over $80/bbl. Until it hits $100 again, nothin' else we do matters.

So, I think we need to work with what we have now. Which isn't much, but more than a few years ago...

Tom
Great idea! I cant type this fast enough, getting my sign guy on the phone right now...


Stephanie Inglis said:
Steve, the spider web trick was one of the first things Tony Woods taught me when I started learning and writing about home performance years ago. It's very true, too. Since we sealed our house we have almost no webs.

Going back to the peer pressure as motivational tool, has anyone ever tried using that kind of messaging in a neighborhood where a job is just completed? I'm seeing a lawn sign put up that says something like 'This home is now 20% more energy efficient thanks to XYZ company.' You'd need a really satisfied customer who liked talking to the neighbors to pull it off, though.
Cheers, Eric! Let us know if it works. :)
At Pure Energy, we always require at least 12 months energy use (all fuels, by month) prior to making an appointment with a customer for an audit. We do quick use analyses so we can explain the customer's pattern of energy use to them. This includes "Your family uses x times more energy to cool your home than the average for this area; what is considered normal for this area.... This means, we will focus our time on figuring out why". We also point out where the family is using less energy than what is average or normal. This is VERY effective in assisting people in understanding where they can save and what the savings potential really is for them. Peer pressure works! Especially with those customers who know a lot and just don't have the diagnostic tools - that's why they hire us!
Agreed. We have time of use billing up here, which also really illustrates habits and patterns. I can tell you that all my appliances have timers!

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