Last Updated: December 21, 2017, 3:53 pm

Watt’s Your Future Worth?: Positive pressure helps energy efficiency efforts


There is not one particular driving force behind gaining the desire to be more energy efficient.

For me personally, becoming more energy efficient was an accident. My energy efficiency started completely in hopes of saving some extra cash each month by lowering the utilities bill.

Over time, my driving force behind paying attention to my energy use changed. Now I try to be energy efficient because I realize the possibility of running out of energy if we aren’t careful about how we use it.

Also, I like to see how tough I am by seeing how long I can procrastinate turning on the heater. Last winter I think I made it until the middle of November. Any bets on how long I’ll last this winter? 

In a study done on energy, by graduate students in San Marcos, California, it was discovered that behavioral science impacts the amount of energy an individual uses more than anything else. Alex Laskey, an energy software maker, talks about this study in a Ted Talk he gave in 2013.

The study tested four different techniques of encouraging people to be more aware of the energy they used and cause them to desire to waste less.

Out of the four tactics used, the only one that impacted energy use was telling them that their neighbors used less energy. Social pressure caused them to be more aware of their own personal energy use.

Consider this: Does your roommate take a shorter shower than you? Is your light on more or less than everyone else’s that you live with? Are you the roommate who warms your car up in the morning for 20 minutes during the winter? Or do you bundle up in your best coat and only warm your car up for five?

I’ll be honest, I’m not a big fan of competition, but positive social pressure should be harnessed and used for good. Competing to be more energy efficient than your roommate or even your neighbor is a good thing. Let’s just be sure the competition stays realistic and that we don’t become radical energy consumers.

“The most overlooked resource to get us to a sustainable energy future is in this room; it’s you, and it’s me,” Laskey said.

I’ve given you some ideas in this article as well as in past articles about how you can save energy. Knowing exactly how to save energy might not be the most important part of being energy efficient.

The greatest change in your energy efficiency will take place when you begin asking yourself how you can save energy in your personal life.

Think about this, what could you change in your life that would make you a more energy efficient person?