Consumers are often poorly informed about the energy consumed by different technologies and products. Traditionally, consumers have been provided with limited and flawed energy metrics, such as miles per gallon, to quantify energy use. We propose four principles for designing better energy metrics. Better measurements would describe the amount of energy consumed by a device or activity, not its energy efficiency; relate that information to important objectives, such as reducing costs or environmental impacts; use relative comparisons to put energy consumption in context; and provide information on expanded scales. We review insights from psychology underlying the recommendations and the empirical evidence supporting their effectiveness. These interventions should be attractive to a broad political spectrum because they are low cost and designed to improve consumer decisionmaking.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 63-75
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2023
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