Episode 111: How can social networks affect energy investment decisions?

On this week’s Energy Bite, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, tells us how our social networks can affect how we invest in energy.

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The Role of Community and Social Networking from Penn State University.

Schubert R and Stadelmann M (2015) Energy-using durables – why consumers refrain from economically optimal choicesFront. Energy Res. 3:7. doi: 10.3389/fenrg.2015.00007l


Transcript

HOST: How can social networks affect consumer or business energy investment decisions? On this week’s Energy Bite, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, explains.

WONG-PARODI: In talking to small commercial building owners, researchers at Carnegie Mellon were surprised to find out that an important influence on energy decision-making was that owners’ “social network”. Use of a social network saves them the time necessary to find someone they trust and to understand all of the options.

HOST: What about residential consumers?

WONG-PARODI: Appliances are often bought at a time of crisis. For example, a water heater has broken down and we want to replace it right away. As a result, the decisions consumers make are based on the capital cost of that water heater – the price they pay at the time – rather than considering the long-term economic impacts that take into the account the financial savings from a more energy efficient water heater.

In addition to providing information to consumers, this research implies that it is important for installers and salespeople to have training so they can understand the short- and long-term financial implications.

HOST: Who influences your energy-related investment decisions? 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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