The Effectiveness of Energy Feedback for Conservation and Peak Demand: A Literature Review


This paper reviews electricity consumption feedback literature to explore the potential of electricity feedback to affect residential consumers’ electricity usage patterns. The review highlights a substantial amount of literature covering the debate over the effectiveness of different feedback criteria to residential customer acceptance and overall conservation and peak demand reduction. Researchers studying the effects of feedback on everyday energy use have observed substantial variation in effect size, both within and between studies. Although researchers still continue to question the types of feedback that are most effective in encouraging conservation and peak load reduction, some trends have emerged. These include that feedback be received as quickly as possible to the time of consumption; be related to a standard; be clear and meaningful and where possible both direct and indirect feedback be customised to the customer. In general, the literature finds that feedback can reduce electricity consumption in homes by 5 to 20 percent, but that significant gaps remain in our knowledge of the effectiveness and cost benefit of feedback.

Share and Cite:

Vine, D. , Buys, L. and Morris, P. (2013) The Effectiveness of Energy Feedback for Conservation and Peak Demand: A Literature Review. Open Journal of Energy Efficiency, 2, 7-15. doi: 10.4236/ojee.2013.21002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] P. Simshauser, E. Molyneux and M. Shepherd, “The Entry Cost Shock and the Re-Rating of Power Prices in New South Wales, Australia,” Australian Economic Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, 2010, pp. 114-135. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8462.2010.00584.x
[2] A. Faruqui, S. Sergici and A. Sharif, “The Impact of Informational Feedback on Energy Consumption—A Survey of the Experimental Evidence,” Energy, Vol. 35, No. 4, 2010, pp. 1598-1608. doi:10.1016/
[3] Australian Energy Market Commission, “Retail electricity price estimates: Final report for 2010-2011 to 2013- 2014,” Australian Energy Market Commission, Sydney, 2011.
[4] R. A. Winett, J. H. Kagel, R. C. Battalio and R. C. Winkler, “Effects of Monetary Rebates, Feedback, and Information on Residential Electricity Conservation,” Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 63, No. 1, 1978, pp. 73-80. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.63.1.73
[5] H. Wilhite and R. Ling, “Measured Energy Savings from a More Informative Energy Bill,” Energy and Buildings, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1995, pp. 145-155. doi:10.1016/0378-7788(94)00912-4
[6] L. Nielsen, “How to Get the Birds in the Bush into Your Hand: Results from a Danish Research Project on Electricity Savings,” Energy Policy, Vol. 21, No. 11, 1993, pp. 1133-1144. doi:10.1016/0301-4215(93)90263-F
[7] T. Ueno, R. Inada, O. Saeki and K. Tsuji, “Effectiveness of an Energy-Consumption Information System for Residential Buildings,” Applied Energy, Vol. 83, No. 8, 2006, pp. 868-883. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2005.09.004
[8] A. Gronhoj and J. Thogersen, “Feedback on Household Electricity Consumption: Learning and Social Influence Processes,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2011, pp. 138-145. doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00967.x
[9] T. Hargreaves, M. Nye and J. Burgess, “Making Energy Visible: A Qualitative Field Study of How Householders Interact with Feedback from Smart Energy Monitors,” Energy Policy, Vol. 38, No. 10, 2010, pp. 6111-6119. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2010.05.068
[10] S. Darby, “Smart Metering: What Potential for Householder Engagement?” Building Research and Information, Vol. 38, No. 5, 2010, pp. 442-457. doi:10.1080/09613218.2010.492660
[11] M. Martiskainen and J. Coburn, “The Role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Household Energy Consumption-Prospects for the UK,” Energy Efficiency, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2011, pp. 209-221. doi:10.1007/s12053-010-9094-2
[12] C. Fischer, “Feedback on Household Electricity Consumption: A Tool for Saving Energy?” Energy Efficiency, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2008, pp. 79-104. doi:10.1007/s12053-008-9009-7
[13] S. Darby, “The Effectiveness of Feedback on Energy Consumption: A Review for DEFRA of the Literature on Metering, Billing and Direct Displays,” Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, 2006.
[14] G. Wood and M. Newborough, “Dynamic Energy-Consumption Indicators for Domestic Appliances: Environ- ment, Behaviour and Design,” Energy and Buildings, Vol. 35, No. 8, 2003, pp. 821-841. doi:10.1016/S0378-7788(02)00241-4
[15] G. Jacucci, A. Spagnolli, L. Gamberini, A. Chalambalakis, C. Bj?rksog, M. Bertoncini, C. Torstensson and P. Monti, “Designing Effective Feedback of Electricity Consumption for Mobile User Interfaces,” PsychNology Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2009, pp. 265-289.
[16] J. H. van Houwelingen and W. F. van Raaij, “The Effect of Goal-Setting and Daily Electronic Feedback on In- Home Energy Use,” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1989, pp. 98-105. doi:10.1086/209197
[17] E. Kamenica, S. Mullainathan and R. Thaler, “Helping Consumers Know Themselves,” American Economic Re- view, Vol. 101, No. 3, 2011, pp. 417-422. doi:10.1257/aer.101.3.417
[18] Electric Power Research Institute, “Residential Electricity Use Feedback: A Research Synthesis and Economic Framework 1016844,” Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, 2009.
[19] J. Burgess and M. Nye, “Re-Materialising Energy Use through Transparent Monitoring Systems,” Energy Policy, Vol. 36, No. 12, 2008, p. 4454. doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2008.09.039
[20] A. Spagnolli, N. Corradi, L. Gamberini, E. Hoggan, G. Jacucci, C. Katzeff, L. Broms and L. Jonsson, “Eco-Feedback on the Go: Motivating Energy Awareness,” Computer, Vol. 44, No. 5, 2011, pp. 38-45. doi:10.1109/MC.2011.125
[21] D. J. Kerrigan, L. Gamberini, A. Spagnolli and G. Jacucci, “Smart Meters: A Users’ View,” PsychNology Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2011, pp. 55-72.
[22] M. A. Alahmad, P. G. Wheeler, A. Schwer, J. Eiden and A. Brumbaugh, “A Comparative Study of Three Feedback Devices for Residential Real-Time Energy Monitoring,” IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, Vol. 59, No. 4, 2012, pp. 2002-2013. doi:10.1109/TIE.2011.2165456
[23] S. S. van Dam, C. A. Bakker and J. D. M. van Hal, “Home Energy Monitors: Impact over the Medium-Term,” Building Research and Information, Vol. 38, No. 5, 2010, pp. 458-469. doi:10.1080/09613218.2010.494832
[24] R. G. Bittle, R. Valesano and G. Thaler, “The Effects of Daily Cost Feedback on Residential Electric Consumption,” Behaviour Modification, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1979, pp. 187-202. doi:10.1177/014544557932004
[25] G. Brandon and A. Lewis, “Reducing Household Energy Consumption: A Qualitative and Quantitative Field Study,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 19, No. 1, 1999, pp. 75-85. doi:10.1006/jevp.1998.0105
[26] I. Ayres, S. Raseman and A. Shih, “Evidence from Two Large Field Experiments that Peer Comparison Feedback can Reduce Residential Energy Usage,” Rochester, 2009.
[27] B. Gatersleben, L. Steg and C. Vlek, “Measurement and Determinants of Environmentally Significant Consumer Behavior,” Environment and Behavior, Vol. 34, No. 3, 2002, pp. 335-362. doi:10.1177/0013916502034003004
[28] D. A. Guerin, B. L. Yust and J. G. Coopet, “Occupant Predictors of Household Energy Behavior and Consumption Change as Found in Energy Studies Since 1975,” Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2000, pp. 48-80. doi:10.1177/1077727X00291003
[29] D. C. Mountain, “Real-Time Feedback and Residential Electricity Consumption: British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador Pilots,” 2007.
[30] K. Ehrhardt-Martinez, J. A. S. Laitner and K. A. Donnelly, “Chapter 10—Beyond the Meter: Enabling Better Home Energy Management,” In: S. Fereidoon Perry, Ed., Energy, Sustainability and the Environment, Butterworth- Heinemann, Boston, 2011, pp. 273-303.
[31] G. Wallenborn, M. Orsini and J. Vanhaverbeke, “Household Appropriation of Electricity Monitors,” International Journal of Consumer Studies, Vol. 35, No. 2, 2011, pp. 146-152. doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00985.x
[32] Y. Strengers, “Negotiating Everyday Life: The Role of Energy and Water Consumption Feedback,” Journal of Consumer Culture, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2011, pp. 319-338. doi:10.1177/1469540511417994
[33] K. Ellegard and J. Palm, “Visualizing Energy Consumption Activities as a Tool for Making Everyday Life More Sustainable,” Applied Energy, Vol. 88, No. 5, 2011, pp. 1920-1926. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2010.11.019
[34] S. Karjalainen, “Consumer Preferences for Feedback on Household Electricity Consumption,” Energy and Buildings, Vol. 43, No. 2-3, 2011, pp. 458-467. doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2010.10.010
[35] L. J. Becker, “Joint Effect of Feedback and Goal Setting on Performance: A Field Study of Residential Energy Conservation,” Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 63, No. 4, 1978, pp. 428-433. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.63.4.428
[36] C. Seligman, L. J. Becker and J. M. Darley, “Encouraging Residential Energy Conservation through Feedback,” Advances in Environmental Psychology, Vol. 3, 1981, pp. 93-113.
[37] L. T. McCalley and C. J. H. Midden, “Energy Conservation through Product-Integrated Feedback: The Roles of Goal-Setting and Social Orientation,” Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 23, No. 5, 2002, pp. 589-603. doi:10.1016/S0167-4870(02)00119-8
[38] L. T. McCalley and C. J. H. Midden, “Making Energy Feedback Work,” In: P.-P. Verbeek and A. Slob, Eds., User Behavior and Technology Development, Springer Netherlands, Vol. 20, 2006, pp. 127-137. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-5196-8_13
[39] P. W. Schultz, “Making Energy Conservation the Norm. In: K. Ehrhardt-Martinez and J. A. S. Laitner, Eds., People-Centered Initiatives for Increasing Energy Savings, ACEEE, Colorado, 2010.
[40] D. Bonino, F. Corno and L. De Russis, “Home Energy Consumption Feedback: A User Survey,” Energy and Buildings, Vol. 47, 2012, pp. 383-393. doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2011.12.017
[41] G. Wood and M. Newborough, “Energy-Use Information Transfer for Intelligent Homes: Enabling Energy Conservation with Central and Local Displays,” Vol. 39, No. 4, 2007, pp. 495-503. doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2006.06.009
[42] S. Roberts, H. Humphries and V. Hyldon, “Consumer Preferences for Improving Energy Consumption Feed- back: Report to Ofgem,” Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol, 2004.
[43] C. Egan, W. Kempton, A. Eide, D. Lord and C. Payne, In How Customers Interpret and Use Comparative Graphics of Their Energy Use, ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings Washington, D.C., 1996, ACEEE, Washington, D.C., 1996, pp. 39-46.
[44] W. Kempton and L. L. Layne, “The Consumer’s Energy Analysis Environment,” Energy Policy, Vol. 22, No. 10, 1994, pp. 857-866. doi:10.1016/0301-4215(94)90145-7
[45] C. Fischer, “Discussion Paper 8: Influencing Electricity Consumption Via Consumer Feedback: A Review of Experience,” ECEEE 2007 Summer Study, Berlin, 2007.
[46] P. W. Schultz, J. M. Nolan, R. B. Cialdini, N. J. Goldstein and V. Griskevicius, “The Constructive, Destructive, and Reconstructive Power of Social Norms,” Psychological Science, Vol. 18, No. 5, 2007, pp. 429-434. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01917.x
[47] R. B. Cialdini, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” William Morrow & Co., New York, 1993.
[48] H. Wilhite, A. Hoivik and J. Olsen, “In Advances in the Use of Consumption Feedback Information in Energy Billing: The Experiences of a Norwegian Utility,” ECEEE 1999 Summer Study Proceedings, 1999.
[49] V. Sundramoorthy, G. Cooper, N. Linge and L. Qi, “Domesticating Energy-Monitoring Systems: Challenges and Design Concerns,” IEEE on Pervasive Computing, Vol. 10, No. 1, 2011, pp. 20-27. doi:10.1109/MPRV.2010.73
[50] M. Iyer, W. Kempton and C. Payne, “Comparison Groups on Bills: Automated, Personalized Energy Information,” Energy and Buildings, Vol. 38, No. 8, 2006, pp. 988-996. doi:10.1016/j.enbuild.2005.11.009
[51] J. M. Nolan, P. W. Schultz, R. B. Cialdini, N. J. Goldstein and V. Griskevicius, “Normative Social Influence is Underdetected,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 7, 2008, pp. 913-923. doi:10.1177/0146167208316691
[52] H. Allcott, “Social Norms and Energy Conservation,” Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 95, No. 9-10, 2011, pp. 1082-1095. doi:10.1016/j.jpubeco.2011.03.003
[53] C. J. H. Midden, J. E. Meter, M. H. Weenig and H. J. A. Zieverink, “Using Feedback, Reinforcement and Information to Reduce Energy Consumption in Households: A Field-Experiment,” Journal of Economic Psychology, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1983, pp. 65-86. doi:10.1016/0167-4870(83)90058-2
[54] S. Darby, “Making It Obvious: Designing Feedback into Energy Consumption,” In Second International Conference on Energy Efficiency in Household Appliances and Lighting, Naples, 2000.
[55] A. H. McMakin, E. L. Malone and R. E. Lundgren, “Motivating Residents to Conserve Energy without Financial Incentives,” Environment and Behavior, Vol. 34, No. 6, 2002, pp. 848-863. doi:10.1177/001391602237252
[56] L. Lutzenhiser, “Social and Behavioral Aspects of Energy use,” Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Vol. 18, No. 1, 1993, pp. 247-289. doi:10.1146/
[57] R. D. Miller and J. M. Ford, “Shared Savings in the Residential Market: A Public/Private Partnership for Energy Conservation Urban Consortium for Technology Initiatives,” Energy Task Force, Baltimore, 1985.
[58] R. B. Cialdini, “Basic Social Influence Is Underestimated,” Psychological Inquiry, Vol. 16, No. 4, 2005, pp. 158-161. doi:10.1207/s15327965pli1604_03
[59] G. Fitzpatrick and G. Smith, “Technology-Enabled Feedback on Domestic Energy Consumption: Articulating a Set of Design Concerns,” IEEE on Pervasive Computing, Vol. 8, No. 1, 2009, pp. 37-44. doi:10.1109/MPRV.2009.17
[60] S. Roberts and W. Baker, “Towards Effective Energy Information. Improving Consumer Feedback on Energy Consumption. A Report to OFGEM,” Centre for Sustainable Energy, Bristol, 2003.
[61] M. S. Martinez and C. R. Geltz, “Utilizing a Pre-Attentive Technology for Modifying Customer Energy Usage European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy,” 2005.
[62] R. B. Hutton, G. A. Mauser, P. Filiatrault and O. T. Ahtola, “Effects of Cost-Related Feedback on Consumer Knowledge and Consumption Behavior: A Field Experimental Approach,” Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1986, pp. 327-336. doi:10.1086/209072
[63] M. J. Bekker, T. D. Cumming, N. K. P. Osborne, A. M. Bruining, J. I. McClean and L. S. Leland Jr., “Encouraging Electricity Savings in a University Residential Hall through a Combination of Feedback, Visual Prompts, and Incentives,” Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Vol. 43, No. 2, 2010, pp. 327-331. doi:10.1901/jaba.2010.43-327
[64] D. Allen and K. B. Janda, “In the Effects of Household Characteristics and Energy Use Consciousness on the Effectiveness of Real-Time Energy Use Feedback: A Pilot Study American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy 2006 Summer Study, Washington D.C., 2006,” ACEEE: Washington D.C., 2006.
[65] W. Abrahamse, L. Steg, C. Vlek and T. Rothengatter, “A review of intervention studies aimed at household energy conservation,” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 25, No. 3, 2005, pp. 273-291. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2005.08.002
[66] T. Ueno, R. Inada, O. Saeki and K. Tsuji, “In Effectiveness of displaying energy consumption data in residential houses: analysis on how the residents respond, 2005 summer study of the European Council for an energy efficient economy, Stockholm, 2005,” ECEEE, Stockholm, 2005, pp. 1289-1299.
[67] D. Parker, D. Hoak and J. Cummings, “Pilot Evaluation of Energy Savings and Persistence from Residential En- ergy Demand Feedback Devices in a Hot Climate. In Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings—The Climate for Efficiency is Now,” ACEEE, Pacific Grove, CA, 2010.
[68] M. Gleerup, A. Larsen, S. Leth-Petersen and M. Togeby, “The Effect of Feedback by Text Message (SMS) and Email on Household Electricity Consumption: Experimental Evidence,” The Energy Journal, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2010, pp. 113-132. doi:10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol31-No3-6
[69] K. A. Donnelly, “The Technological and Human Dimensions of Residential Feedback: An Introduction to the Broad Range of Today’S Feedback Strategies,” In: K. Ehrhardt-Martinez and J. A. S. Laitner, Eds., People- Centered Initiatives for Increasing Energy Savings, ACEEE, Colorado, 2010.
[70] Y. Riche, J. Dodge and R. A. Metoyer, “Studying Always-On Electricity Feedback in the Home,” Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, Atlanta, 2010, pp. 1995-1998.
[71] J. Rodgers and L. Bartram, “Exploring Ambient and Artistic Visualization for Residential Energy Use Feed- back,” IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Vol. 17, No. 12, 2011, pp. 2489-2497. doi:10.1109/TVCG.2011.196

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.