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  • Academic publication
  • 1st Nov 2021

Persisting effects of social norm feedback letters in reducing household electricity usage in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe

A randomized controlled trial


In a large-scale randomized field experiment in Chisinau, Moldova, with over 120,000 households, we tested the influence of a simple, one-time letter presenting electricity-usage social comparison feedback. The letter was framed in either kilowatt-hour units or monetary values.

We find that both letter versions significantly reduce recipient households’ electricity consumption by 1.7–2.1 percent in the following month, and the effect persists for at least three months. The effect’s magnitude and duration resemble those seen in similar trials in the U.S., even though Moldova’s average household electricity consumption level is much lower.

As the first large-scale field experiment testing social comparison energy reports in a post-Soviet environment, this study provides empirical evidence that non-price nudges can be an inexpensive yet useful energy conservation policy tool even in non-Western and less industrialized settings.

We explore the relationship between Moldova’s socioecological contexts and environmental attitudes as a former Soviet Union country and the relatively strong social norm effect that we observed.

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