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Title: Accelerating demand for residential solar photovoltaics: Can simple framing strategies increase consumer interest?

Abstract

Household adoption of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies has the potential to significantly reduce emissions from electricity generation. High upfront costs, however, are often a barrier to adoption, even when costs may be offset by future energy savings. Through a series of randomized experiments, we examine whether framing strategies grounded in behavioral economics and psychology can be used to increase the financial appeal of such products. Using mock ads for residential solar photovoltaics (PV), we test four frames: gain/loss framing, temporal framing, varied savings amounts, and simple vs. detailed savings calculations. Overall, we find that reframing the financial benefits of PV does not greatly influence the appeal of solar or the likelihood to respond to the mock ads. Instead, underlying consumer motivations and predispositions (i.e., perceived social support, consumer innovativeness, and personal pro-environmental norms) are the primary factors driving interest in adopting solar. Our findings suggest that tailoring messages to targeted consumer segments may be more effective than attempts to market the financial benefits of PV to broad audiences. Furthermore, the results also contribute to behavioral economics and psychology research by identifying contexts under which the gain/loss framing bias and the present/future framing bias may not apply.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3]; ORCiD logo [3];  [3]
  1. Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL (United States); Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  2. Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. (LBNL), Berkeley, CA (United States)
  3. National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Solar Energy Technologies Office (EE-4S)
OSTI Identifier:
1476980
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-6A20-70069
Journal ID: ISSN 0959-3780
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Global Environmental Change
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 53; Journal Issue: C; Journal ID: ISSN 0959-3780
Publisher:
Elsevier
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
14 SOLAR ENERGY; 29 ENERGY PLANNING, POLICY, AND ECONOMY; residential solar photovoltaics; energy investments; message framing; prospect theory; loss aversion; construal level theory

Citation Formats

Wolske, Kimberly S., Todd, Annika, Rossol, Michael, McCall, James D., and Sigrin, Benjamin. Accelerating demand for residential solar photovoltaics: Can simple framing strategies increase consumer interest?. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.08.005.
Wolske, Kimberly S., Todd, Annika, Rossol, Michael, McCall, James D., & Sigrin, Benjamin. Accelerating demand for residential solar photovoltaics: Can simple framing strategies increase consumer interest?. United States. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.08.005.
Wolske, Kimberly S., Todd, Annika, Rossol, Michael, McCall, James D., and Sigrin, Benjamin. Sat . "Accelerating demand for residential solar photovoltaics: Can simple framing strategies increase consumer interest?". United States. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.08.005. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1476980.
@article{osti_1476980,
title = {Accelerating demand for residential solar photovoltaics: Can simple framing strategies increase consumer interest?},
author = {Wolske, Kimberly S. and Todd, Annika and Rossol, Michael and McCall, James D. and Sigrin, Benjamin},
abstractNote = {Household adoption of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies has the potential to significantly reduce emissions from electricity generation. High upfront costs, however, are often a barrier to adoption, even when costs may be offset by future energy savings. Through a series of randomized experiments, we examine whether framing strategies grounded in behavioral economics and psychology can be used to increase the financial appeal of such products. Using mock ads for residential solar photovoltaics (PV), we test four frames: gain/loss framing, temporal framing, varied savings amounts, and simple vs. detailed savings calculations. Overall, we find that reframing the financial benefits of PV does not greatly influence the appeal of solar or the likelihood to respond to the mock ads. Instead, underlying consumer motivations and predispositions (i.e., perceived social support, consumer innovativeness, and personal pro-environmental norms) are the primary factors driving interest in adopting solar. Our findings suggest that tailoring messages to targeted consumer segments may be more effective than attempts to market the financial benefits of PV to broad audiences. Furthermore, the results also contribute to behavioral economics and psychology research by identifying contexts under which the gain/loss framing bias and the present/future framing bias may not apply.},
doi = {10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.08.005},
journal = {Global Environmental Change},
issn = {0959-3780},
number = C,
volume = 53,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {9}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
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Cited by: 4 works
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Figures / Tables:

Fig. 1 Fig. 1: Mock ad from Study 1 showing annual gain frame for California.

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Figures/Tables have been extracted from DOE-funded journal article accepted manuscripts.