We study how to foster engagement in the energy sector, where signals about consumption are opaque and infrequent. We evaluate an energy company's large-scale communication campaign for promoting natural gas self-reading. Self-readings allow utilities to bill customers on the basis of real - as opposed to estimated - consumption. Exploiting variation in campaign messages, we test the impact of imposing a sense of urgency on customers through a deadline for submitting a meter reading. We find that messages that induce a sense of urgency are twice as effective than generic messages in encouraging self-readings, consistent with recent research on the urgency effect. The increased sense of urgency moves to action customers with both high and low levels of baseline engagement; the effect is stronger on the former.
- Consumer behavior
- Gas consumption