Effectiveness of behavioural interventions to reduce household energy demand: A scoping review

Jordana W. Composto, Elke U. Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This paper provides a scoping review of behavioural interventions that target household energy demand. We evaluate 584 empirical papers that test the effectiveness of a behavioural intervention to change behaviour associated with household energy demand. The most studied behavioural tools are providing timely feedback and reminders and making information intuitive and easy to access, followed by (in order) communicating a norm, reframing consequences, making behaviour observable, obtaining a commitment, setting proper defaults, and transitions and habit disruption. The most studied demand-side behaviour is electricity use. There is high heterogeneity in effect sizes. We classified the target behaviours of each study as avoid, shift, or improve behaviours and find that avoid behaviours (in particular, reducing electricity usage) are the predominant focus of researchers. The effectiveness of interventions differs across avoid, shift, and improve responses and by the behavioural tool. Specifically, shifting behaviours are less effectively motivated than avoiding behaviours by using an information intervention but more effectively by using a norm intervention. We review the literature to provide further information about which behavioural tools are most effective for specific contexts. The effectiveness of most behavioural tools are augmented when they are used in the right combination with other tools. We recommend that researchers focus future work on high impact behaviours and the evaluation of synergistic combinations of behavioural interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063005
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • behavioural interventions
  • climate change mitigation
  • demand-side solutions
  • household energy


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