Adoption and Usage: Consumer Interaction with Green IS

Research Highlights

- Highlighting social norms can considerably increase systems use, whereas small financial incentives can have detrimental effects on long-term system usage.



Following decades of stable profit margins in the residential market, power utilities increasingly strive to become service providers. This requires companies to develop a solid understanding of customer needs and to establish vibrant sales and communication channels – which is often difficult for players that come from monopolistic markets. An essential instrument for establishing closer relationships with customers are online platforms and interactive energy efficiency campaigns. The challenge, however, is to engage a sufficiently large share of customers to participate on those programs.  



This project investigates motivational appeals to promote voluntary participation in energy efficiency programs and psychological mechanisms to increase user activity. We further developed a fully productive online system and a mobile application (iOS and Android) that allows the implementation of various experimental designs. Specifically, we tested different motivational appeals, such as self-benefit, altruistic or social-normative, as well as gamification techniques with both tangible and intangible monetary, and non-monetary rewards. 


The results show that a careful application of social-normative messages can significantly increase the number of system users, especially among  consumers with high absolute saving potentials. The results also demonstrate that small financial incentives for participation seem to negatively affect intrinsic motivation and to have little effects on long-term system usage. Overall, monetary rewards are either counterproductive (if too small) or too expensive for  mass deployment, whereas social norms tend to work well and are cost effective.   

Selected publications

Lossin, F., Kozlovskiy, I., Sodenkamp, M., Staake, T. (2016) Incentives to Go Green: An empirical investigation of monetary and symbolic rewards to motivate energy savings, European Conference on Information Systems. Istanbul, Turkey, 12-15 June 2016.

Lossin, F., Staake, T., (2016) Bonusmodelle für energieeffiziente Haushalte mit dem Effizienzportal smartsteps, Energieforschung Stadt Zürich. Schlussbericht FP 1.9.

Lossin, F., Loder, A., & Staake, T. (2014). Energy informatics for behavioral change. Computer Science - Research and Development, 31(3), 149-155.


Research funded in parts by Energieforschung Stadt Zürich.


Felix Lossin, Thorsten Staake, Ilya Kozlovskiy, Allister Loder 

Partners: BEN Energy, ewz



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