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Examining community-level collaborative vs. competitive approaches to enhance household electricity-saving behavior

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To test the effectiveness of a competitive or collaborative approach on engaging people to change their household electricity-use habits, a mobile app, called Social Power, is developed to provide electricity meter feedback in two gamified environments. The project aims at stimulating social engagement and promoting behavioral change to save electricity at the household level by forming teams of neighbors in two Swiss cities. The household participants are assigned to one of two teams: either a collaborative team where citizens in the same city try to reach a fixed, 10% electricity savings target collectively or a competitive team which tries to save the most electricity in comparison to another city. The collaborative and competitive gamified structures are run in parallel as a 3-month field experiment (February to May 2016) involving 108 recruited household participants in two cities, with ultimately 46 who actively play. In this paper, we present the result of the two gamified structures on the sustainability of reported behavior, as well as on actual saved electricity. Overall, a collaborative or a competitive intervention contributes to electricity savings and reported behavior as compared to the control group; however, no significant difference is found between the two gamified structures.

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The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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We would like to thank our partners Stadtwerk Winterthur, Azienda Elettrica di Massagno SA, QBT and SparklingLabs for their support in this work. Special thanks to the households of the cities of Massagno and Winterthur who participated in the Social Power project. We thank the reviewers for their constructive inputs.

The authors wish to thank the invaluable support of their colleagues: Emilia Ciardi, Pasquale Granato, Corinne Moser, Vivian Frick, Christian Hertach, Tobias Kuehn, and Pamela Bianchi. The research has been supported by the Gebert Rüf Foundation under the BREF program Social Innovation, as well as carried out thanks to the Swiss utilities AEM in Massagno and Stadtwerk Winterthur in Winterthur. We also thank the reviewers for their constructive comments.


Funding of the Social Power project was provided by the Gebert Rüf Foundation.

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Correspondence to Devon Wemyss.

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Wemyss, D., Castri, R., Cellina, F. et al. Examining community-level collaborative vs. competitive approaches to enhance household electricity-saving behavior. Energy Efficiency 11, 2057–2075 (2018).

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