Many measures and interventions for energy conservation focus on financial incentives to stimulate behavior change, as in “saving energy = saving money”. However, financial incentives are some times difficult to implement, or have a really small margine on individual level. Consider for instance energy use at work - where the employer pays the bill, in hotels - where energy is included in the room price and in rental homes with all-inclusive energy, gas and water use - like student housing. Such settings require a different approach. In order to successfully stimulate energy saving in these situations, more knowledge is needed of non-financial incentives, such as social incentives and feedback, that can have a positive effect on energy saving behavior.

The project “Saving Energy When Others Pay the Bill” set out to stimulate energy conservation in situations where people do not pay the energy bill themselves. In a series of field experiments, the potentially positive effects of non-financial incentives and technological innovations on energy saving behavior are studied. Field labs has been established at several locations of The Student Hotel in Amsterdam. The project focuses on two situations: when students live in all-inclusive housing and b) when students are hotel guests. Electricity and water meters were installed in over 200 rooms to gain insight in the energy useage of the hotel guests en renters.

Research questions were:

  • What is the impact/effect of social incentives like public praise, commitment, gift-giving and competition on energy behavior?
  • What is the impact/effect of improved knowledge about environmental issues and specific energy saving behaviors on energy behavior?
  • What role do environmental attitudes of social groups play?
  • And what is the effect of technological interventions on energy conservation.
Related Information:

Principal Investigators

Michel Handgraaf

Wageningen University & Research


The Student Hotel
Wageningen University & Research
Bectro Installatietechniek