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Competence Centre on Behavioural Insights

We support policymaking with evidence on human behaviour

Topic / Tool | 02 Jun 2020

Behavioural insights for energy

Clean, affordable and secure energy is fundamental to a carbon-free EU. Understanding European’s energy-related decisions can contribute to better EU energy policy.

Why behavioural insights matter

People make numerous decisions around energy consumption. For example, we choose whether to buy a fridge that uses more or less energy, or whether to switch to a green energy contract. In making these decisions, price is just one of the factors we consider, alongside many others (quite often subconsciously).

Behavioural insights can identify these factors and thus improve our understanding of what drives energy-related decisions. For instance

  • We make numerous implicit decisions that consume energy, for instance turning on the lights or commuting by car. These involve daily routines and habits whose energy-use is invisible to us.
  • We often don’t take the time to assess all the available information when we make energy-related decisions. For example, when choosing an energy contract, our attention is limited, and we rely on information that is simple and salient.
  • We save more energy when learning that our neighbours’ use less energy.
  • We’re more likely to choose a green energy contract when it's presented to us as the default option.

Understanding these and other behavioural factors contributes to better energy policy.

How behavioural insights can help

Behaviourally-informed energy policy takes note of the relevant factors. For instance


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