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INEGI joins European project that uses behavioral science to combat energy waste

26 November 2020
The urgency and depth of the behavioral changes necessary to mitigate climate change requires a great effort on the part of each of us. Changing habits and routines is not an easy process, but there is a new European project that could give a "nudge” in the right direction.

It is based on principles of behavioral science that NUDGE emerges, a European project that proposes to study, apply and evaluate the potential of behavioral strategies to improve energy efficiency. The project involves 10 institutions, and will be put into practice in Portugal, under the responsibility of INEGI, as well as in Belgium, Germany, Greece and Croatia.

"Changing the time of day when we turn on the heating, the temperature level of the set-point, the period when we open the windows. and even correcting the structural inefficiencies in our homes - the accumulation of each individual's choices may have a very significant impact ”, says Zenaida Mourão, responsible for the project at INEGI. "Which is why, predicting the response of consumers to certain incentives, supporting better choices, is an important strategy ”.

Under the coordination of INEGI's team of specialists, Portugal will host a pilot study that aims to encourage long-term energy savings in homes where children live. "We want to know if and how it is possible to reduce consumption, while providing a healthy and comfortable environment for families with young children", explains the researcher.

In this pilot test, the "nudges” will reach families via a smartphone application, which will generate notifications based on consumption levels measured by smart electricity and natural gas meters, and low-cost sensors that monitor the quality of the indoor environment (measuring temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, suspended particles and volatile organic compounds).

This app will recommend different actions to optimize energy use, while ensuring healthy levels of environmental quality for the whole family. The collected data will then allow an assessment of the changing behavior of the participating consumers, and prove an eventual increase in energy efficiency.

The other four member states participating in the project will host pilots focused on different behavioral and energy interventions. Ultimately, the objective is to pave the way for the widespread use of this type of interventions, to contribute to the design of public policies, and to formulate specific recommendations for each country.

The NUDGE - NUDging consumers towards enerGy Efficiency through behavioral science project started in September, and is being developed under the Horizon 2020 program.