Episode 110: Default settings make things easy, but do they save us the most energy?

On this week’s Energy Bite, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses the energy efficiency of our appliances’ default settings.



Learn more

Allcott, H., & Mullainathan, S. (2010). Behavioral science and energy policy. Science, 327(5970), 1204-1205.

McCalley, L. T. (2006). From motivation and cognition theories to everyday applications and back again: the case of product-integrated information and feedback. Energy policy, 34(2), 129-137.

Marc Mosko, Victoria Bellotti,  “Smart Conservation for the Lazy Consumer: People aren’t conserving energy for love or money—you have to trick them into it,” 28 Jun 2012.

James Pierce, Diane J. Schiano,1, Eric Paulos, “Home, Habits, and Energy: Examining Domestic Interactions and Energy Consumption,”Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (April 2010).

Appliances and electronics tips: Looking for ways to save money on your energy bill?” from We Energies


HOST: Automatically using the default setting on electronics can be pretty easy. But do those settings save us the most energy? On this week’s Energy Bite, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

WONG-PARODI: A review at MIT and Harvard found that a lot of our default settings for appliances are not the most efficient from an energy standpoint.  For example, a study at the Technical University in the Netherlands found that removing default temperature settings from washing machines was found to reduce energy usage by 24% as users set lower washing temperatures. There is a great deal of research in this area that tells us that most people keep the default option.

HOST: What actions could be taken to change the default settings so they are more energy efficient?

WONG-PARODI: One option would be for policymakers to require or encourage appliance makers to make the default settings those that are most energy efficient.
HOST: What other options do we have?
WONG-PARODI: Some government agencies and utilities provide information on their websites as to which default setting for our appliances is the most energy efficient.
HOST: What would you prefer? That appliance makers use the most energy efficient default settings, or thatconsumers decide on their own if they want to change the default settings?  Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.
Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


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