Jan 30, 2019

Study: Peer pressure affects our energy consumption

Nest Learning Thermostat. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

An interesting piece in Harvard Business Review shows that when people know their neighbors are cutting energy consumption, they tend to reduce their own.

Between the lines: The amount of the reductions is linked to why people think their neighbors are using less.

Why it matters: The analysis, based on a longer study in Nature Human Behavior, looks at one of the drivers of increasing residential energy conservation to help cut carbon emissions.

  • Researchers used data from utility services provider Opower (since bought by Oracle), which gives customers a Home Energy Report that provides info on their energy use and that of their neighbors too.
  • People tend to cut their own consumption by a range of 0.81%–2.55% when they see the hyper-local info.
  • If people think their neighbors' cuts are just incidental (say, the result of being away or kids moving to college), their own cuts are smaller.
  • But if they think their neighbors are acting out of concern for the environment, their own cuts get larger.

The bottom line: Social norms matter. The Harvard Business Review piece concludes...

  • "[O]ur results remind us that whenever we attempt to change human behavior, we must go one step beyond seeking to change what a person believes, and instead also pay attention to what they think others believe."
  • "We are social beings and care deeply about not just what our neighbors and co-workers do, but also what they think."

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 859,796 — Total deaths: 42,332 — Total recoveries: 178,300.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 189,618 — Total deaths: 4,079 — Total recoveries: 7,109.
  3. Business updates: Should you pay your rent or mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Find out if you are protected under the CARES Act.
  4. Public health updates: More than 400 long-term care facilities across the U.S. report patients with coronavirus — Older adults and people with underlying health conditions are more at risk, new data shows.
  5. Federal government latest: President Trump said the next two weeks would be "very painful," with projections indicating the virus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans.
  6. Coronavirus in custody: Inmates in all U.S. federal prisons are set to enter a 14-day quarantine on April 1. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to release 10 detained immigrants who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in confinement.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Captain of nuclear aircraft carrier docked in Guam pleaded with the U.S. Navy for more resources after more than 100 members of his crew tested positive.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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NYC races to build field hospitals as coronavirus death toll tops 1,000

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announces at the USTA Bille Jean King tennis center that the venue will be transformed into a 350-bed temporary hospital. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference Tuesday of plans to triple hospital bed numbers to combat the novel coronavirus by transforming facilities into makeshift hospitals — including U.S. Open tennis courts.

The big picture: The city now accounts for a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. — more than 1,000 as of Wednesday morning. De Blasio said the city had "about 20,000 working hospital beds in our major hospitals" before the outbreak. "We now need to, in just the next weeks ... produce three times that number," he said.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 4,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 4,000 people in the U.S. — with over 1,000 deaths reported in New York City alone, per Johns Hopkins data. The number of deaths are still much lower than those reported in Italy, Spain and China.

Of note: Hours earlier, President Trump noted it's "going to be a very painful two weeks," with projections indicating the novel coronavirus could kill 100,000–240,000 Americans — even with strict social distancing guidelines in place. "They are going to be facing a war zone," he said of medical workers.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health