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Need for change in popular behavior towards energy security

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Anuj Narkhede
I am a student pursuing an MBA from the Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur. I have a background in Civil engineering with masters in urban planning from CEPT, University, Ahmedabad

“The measure of our success will be the condition on which we leave the world for next generation”, famous American actor Robert Redford said.

Today, India needs to import around 80% of its oil requirement. Rising international oil prices and inflation causes an increase in oil import cost, resulting in rising fuel prices and all dependent commodities, resulting in instability in the Indian economy and energy scarcity, making this crisis worse.

In India, residential households consume a large amount of energy, especially in urban regions where people carelessly use electricity and fuel more than their daily requirement. India’s energy demand is increasing by 2.5% every year, and already 67% of the rural household do not have energy security. Therefore there is a need to change user behavior in order to reduce redundant household energy consumptions.

The unnecessary high energy consumption behavior in urban regions is due to a lack of knowledge about energy saving behavior and availability efficiency measures. Therefore there is a need to creating more awareness regarding energy security and the detrimental effect of ignorant behavior towards it. Also, there is a need to develop social norms in a community where one person can influence others to save energy and promote efficiency measures.

The efficiency measures need to be affordable and convenient for people to use. The inconvenient and unaffordable energy-saving mechanism will not motivate people towards energy saving. Also, there is a need to promote energy-efficient measures and their benefits in cost-effectiveness and environmental well-being with marketing campaigns.

Policy level interventions such as eliminating conventional and inefficient electronic gadgets such as has power bulb and restrictions on their sale need to be implemented. Also, the government needs to reduce taxation on energy-efficient tools and gadgets such as electronic vehicles.

There is a need to use smart meters on the technology level to promote efficient energy use in households by giving proper feedback on energy consumption. Also, there is a need to provide incentives and reward for those who use energy efficiently.

Following is the proposed strategy that needs to be implemented to change the behavior of people towards reducing high energy consumption:

1. Set the target and implementation framework

Government must set a target for every year to reduce the total household energy consumption and design a suitable implementation framework to achieve this target. This will be helpful for all involved stakeholders to work in the same direction and implement strategy effectively.

2. Effective feedback measures

Inform people and provide them real-time feedback regarding their daily energy consumption with modern technology such as smart meters, display units, and dashboards. This will help people to track their consumption and motivate them to find a solution for reducing energy consumption to save billing cost.

3. Fiscal measures

Government should reduce duties and taxes on energy-saving products and increase the same on conventional and high energy-consuming products. This will make energy-saving measures cheaper, and people will get the motivation to implement them. The government can also provide subsidies for using energy-efficient products.

4. Regulatory measures

Government can set up rules and guidelines to promote energy-saving behavior. This includes restricting sales on high energy-consuming products and reducing barriers in energy-saving measures with policy interventions. Government can charge higher rates for consuming more than required energy units.

5. Restructure surrounding environment

Environmental restructuring is the changes in physical and social surroundings to encourage particular behavior. It includes creating awareness and educating people with various plays, moral stories, signboards, and posters. Also, developing social norms in the community to practice energy-saving behaviors.

6. Communicating and marketing

Promote energy-saving behavior with the help of a marketing campaign and involved notable people who can influence people to use energy effectively. Create awareness regarding energy saving, its cost benefits, and the detrimental effects of energy scarcity.

The strategy mentioned above aims to reduce the unnecessary high energy consumption behavior in people with behavioral change interventions. The effective implementation of this strategy is based on various internal and external factors.

Primarily the strategy will work if people come forward and become more aware of the energy scarcity issue and ready to change their behavior after learning consequences. If people refused to accept the changes as proposed in the above strategy, then it will not work effectively. Some people, due to their strong personal beliefs or rigid mentality, does not change their behavior. Other external motivations do not affect such people towards any positive externalities. 

If there are communication gaps in the marketing campaign or if the message about energy-saving behavior is unclear, there might be chances people will misinterpret it. In such a case, the entire marketing campaign fails, and no one will get influenced by it. Hence the promotional campaigns must provide its messages simple and clear. The successful implementation of the above strategy depends on promotional activity and its ability to influence people.

Another major factor that decides the successful implementation of a strategy is financial feasibility and its value for money. If the above strategy’s outcome makes energy-efficient measures cost-effective and affordable compared to conventional products, then only people will get motivated towards it. Otherwise, if these measures are expensive, then the strategy will fail to shift people’s behavior.

Also, various other factors, such as the efficiency of government mechanism to deliver changes as per strategy and outcomes of policy interventions, can impact strategy implementation.

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Anuj Narkhede
I am a student pursuing an MBA from the Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur. I have a background in Civil engineering with masters in urban planning from CEPT, University, Ahmedabad
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