Just What Are You Thinking: Energy and Behavior

What behavioral science has to say about our energy use

Thursday April, 29 2010

Room 1266, Grainger Hall, University of Wisconsin Madison
975 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706

*Registration Required*


Does knowing my neighbor’s energy use influence mine? Or is this an invasion of privacy?
Hunt Alcott of MIT has evaluated an OPOWER Program in Minnesota and is also evaluating a dataset of results from utility programs across the nation.
Life cycle costs: Does it work to educate the public on lifecycle costs? Hunt Alcott has conducted research to look at whether or not consumers weigh life cycle costs over first costs in their purchasing assessment. Does it work to focus on life cycle costs?
Alternatives to cash: Annika Todd will describe a number of ongoing projects that deal with customer perception issues such as:

  • What if the return on investment is not sufficient to motivate someone to act? Can this barrier be overcome by entering program participants into a sweepstakes for a potentially bigger reward?
  • You’ve been framed! While this is a bad outcome in a legal sense, is this a needed task in achieving energy savings?
  • Google Meters-how much is enough and what is right. The Google Meter can do a host of tasks, but which tasks are appropriate for motivating action?

Featured Speakers:

  • Hunt Allcott is an Assistant Professor of Economics at New York University and a Senior Researcher at ideas42, a think tank that applies insights from psychology and economics to problems in international development, health care, consumer finance, and energy and environmental issues. During academic years 2009-2011, he is on leave as the Energy and Society Fellow in the MIT Economics Department and the MIT Energy Initiative. He holds a PhD from Harvard University and a BS and MS from Stanford University. Hunt has worked in the private sector as a consultant with Cambridge Energy Research Associates and with Arthur D. Little and in international development as a consultant to the World Bank.
  • Annika Todd is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center and is the co-chair of the 2010 Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference. She is a behavioral Annika Toddeconomist specializing in environmental applications. Her research uses insights from psychology and behavioral economics to predict and influence energy decisions, including energy conservation behavior as well as purchases of energy efficient electronics and appliances. Ms. Todd received her PhD in Economics from Stanford University. She is part of a research team that received a $6 million grant to carry out behavioral research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects – Energy (ARPA-E). She has extensive experience in behavioral models, behavioral financial markets, game theoretic analysis, and econometric techniques. She has a BA in Molecular and Cell Biology as well as a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.
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