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From the Literature: We Use A Lot of Energy. We Don’t Realize It.

June 15, 2011

This is part of a series of posts I’m calling “From the Literature”, where I digest an academic article related to my future graduate school research.


Public perceptions of energy consumption and savings

Attari, S. Z., DeKay, M. L., Davidson, C. I. and W. Bruine de Bruin. “Public perceptions of energy consumption and savings.” PNAS Early Edition, 2010 <>.


Maybe improved education can help people estimate energy usage more accurately? They under-estimate high-energy consumption/savings.


Despite the fact that efficiency leads to a far greater reduction in energy usage than curtailment, the go-to method for reducing individual energy usage is still to turn off the lights when you leave a room. While this does save energy, it hardly makes up for the old, inefficient refrigerator sitting in your kitchen! See attached plots.


I remember my sister (a college student) explaining that she and her roommates were very invested in reducing their energy usage to keep down their utility bills. However, one of her roommates was taking it a bit far. Eventually she had to draw the line – unplugging the wireless router every time they left the house was not worth it!

This is true.

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