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Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent
Paper

Consumer Behaviour and Climate Action

Insights from a Randomised Control Trial experiment in India's Residential Cooling Sector

Vaibhav Chaturvedi, Apurupa Gorthi, Shikha Bhasin, Arnab Laha
January 2021 | Technology, Finance & Trade

Suggested Citation: Chaturvedi, Vaibhav, Apurupa Gorthi, Shikha Bhasin, and Arnab Laha. 2021. "Consumer behaviour and climate action: insights from a Randomised Control Trial experiment in India's residential cooling sector." Heliyon 7, no. 1: e05749.

Overview

This research is a first-of-its-kind randomised control trial (RCT) study of Indian consumers' AC servicing practices. It uses a detailed survey and RCT experiment to understand the knowledge and behaviour of India’s AC users. Further, it experiments with alternative interventions to influence users’ behaviour and glean insights for India's energy and climate policies. The study also recommends modifications needed in the government’s awareness campaign to bridge the information asymmetry among end-users. This behavioural experiment is a unique and novel methodological contribution to India's cooling and climate debate.

Key Findings

  • The average number of preventive servicing undertaken by AC users in India is much lower than required.
  • Most AC users are unaware of the potential benefits of adopting good servicing practices (GSPs) and do not voluntarily engage in preventive servicing.
  • Most AC users do not want to spend more than 1.5 hours on servicing; and not more than INR 600 per servicing.
  • Almost 85 per cent of the respondents in the baseline survey find technicians’ technical knowledge important or very important.
  • Consumers, however, are not well placed to evaluate the quality and depth of information being provided by technicians, leading to the problem of lemons in the market.
  • The interventions undertaken in this study were successful in enhancing the general awareness of the importance of servicing practices, but not in enhancing technical knowledge related to specific practices.
  • Consumers who know about the economic benefits of regular servicing are more likely to undertake it.
 

Key Recommendations

The government’s consumer awareness generation strategy should:

  • Address the information asymmetry.
  • Emphasise that regular proactive servicing is a must.
  • Highlight that good basic preventive servicing needs at least two hours - the time expected for proper servicing.
  • Motivate customers to be ready to pay higher for good servicing.
  • Emphasise the importance of a good servicing technician.
  • Put in place a standardised certification system to differentiate good technicians from subpar ones.
The RCT interventions are successful in enhancing the awareness of the importance of servicing practices. However, they do not enhance awareness at a technical level or increase the number of servicings used, because achieving these objectives would require a large-scale awareness campaign—something that only the government or industry could do.

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