‘When presented with green energy as default option, 80% stick with it’

Two studies held in Switzerland found that when renewable energy was presented as the standard option, only a fifth of customers made the decision to reject it

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When a green energy deal was presented to household and business customers as a default option in a recently published study, 80% did not switch away from it, even when it was marginally more expensive.

The new research, which was conducted by Ulf Liebe from the University of Warwick, Jennifer Gewinner from ETH Zurich and Andreas Diekmann, from ETH Zurich at the University of Leipzig, aims to illustrate how “non-monetary incentives” can be used to encourage environmentally-friendly behaviours and contribute to tackling climate change.

Two studies, held in Switzerland and involving more than 200,000 households and 8,000 businesses, found that when renewable energy was presented as the standard option, only a fifth of customers made the decision to move away from the green default.

The researchers highlight this proportion “remained largely stable over a time span of at least four years” and note the amount of electricity consumed by a business or household “had only a weak effect on default acceptance”.

The study, published in the Nature journal, stated: “Our data do not indicate moral licensing: accepting the green default did not lead to a disproportionate increase in electricity consumption.

“Compared with men, women in both the household and business sectors were slightly more likely to accept the green default. Overall, non-monetary incentives can be highly effective in both the household and business sectors.”