Residential heating is a major source of carbon emissions and, at the same time, represents a significant cost factor for households. Thus, reducing heating costs through sustainable heating behaviors is of great individual and societal interest. However, the consequences of heating behaviors are complex and delayed, so most people are unaware of them. To address this problem, we designed two loss aversion nudges, using (i) a cost salience and (ii) a health risk framing to induce more sustainable heating and ventilation behaviors. We evaluated them against a no-intervention control group in a field experiment at a major German real estate company. While the cost salience nudge was found to improve heating behaviors and became more effective over time, the health risk nudge did not show an effect. Finally, our findings have implications for research on nudging and loss aversion and for practitioners, namely housing providers and more generalized entities aiming to nudge for pro-environmental behaviors.
Vincent Beermann, Annamina Rieder, Mirko Ebbers, Karl Bicker, Vanessa Poerschke, Falk Uebernickel