Colleges have tested various strategies to help people use energy more wisely:
Motivation: A main obstacle to people reducing their energy use is the lack of frequent and intuitive feedback about their energy consumption. At Oberlin College, students who received real-time depictions of their electricity consumption reduced their electricity use by 32 percent over two weeks.
Norms: People will often change their behavior to align with those around them — for better or for worse. Schools are building “cultures of conservation,” like Cornell with its Think Big, Live Green program that encourages students, faculty and staff to use energy thoughtfully.
Capacity-Building: Students may not know all the ways they can save energy. At University of California, Merced, the Green Campus team has effectively used social networks, digital media and one-on-one conversations to share efficiency tips, reducing energy use in student residence halls by 3.7 percent. Conservation strategies learned in college can be carried on into life after graduation.