Behavioural science could save 97 billion litres of water per year in the UK

Posted: Tuesday 17th April 2018

Advizzo, a behavioural science software company, says that behavioural science can save 97 billion litres of water in the UK per year.

By combining methods from data science and behavioural science, Advizzo creates meaningful feedback about household water consumption to the consumer, motivating them to change how much water they use.

"Many cities in the world are currently experiencing drought due to over-population and decreasing rainfall, meaning Cape Town's crisis will happen elsewhere, including London and Sao Paulo," says Patrice Guillouzic, CEO Advizzo.

In the UK, behavioural science company Advizzo works with half of the UK's major water companies to help consumers reduce their water consumption. Across the board, there is a 3% reduction in water use. While that may not sound like much, if the average water consumption per day is 328.2 litres for a household with 2.4 occupants, it means behavioural science has the power to reduce water consumption by almost 267 million litres a day across the UK. That's the equivalent of:

Over 5 million washing machine cycles per day (based of 50 litres per wash) OR

Over 5 million showers per day (base of 50 litres per shower) OR

44 million toilet flushes per day OR

762 million cups of coffee

Per year, it equates to over 97 billion litres saved. To put that saving into context, London alone is powered by 2.6 billion litres of potable tap water a day. With drought and supply issues circling water companies, savings of that magnitude could help supply the city for years until alternatives are found.

"It's savings like this that demonstrate Day Zero did not need to exist in Cape Town," continues Guillouzic. "With a higher than average per capita consumption of water (235lpd) compared to the rest of the world (173lpd), it is extremely likely that small behavioural changes would have helped to avoid the current crisis. Small changes can make a big difference - and it starts with the consumer."

Specific to water consumption in the UK, behavioural science techniques that are working at the moment are Social Norms, Goal Pursuit, Incentives, Framing and Cognitive Dissonance

These are wrapped up in an overarching strategy called Nudge Theory, which applies the above to motivate people to adjust their water consumption by nudging them via email or through other apps.

For example, social norm messaging, helps consumers to understand their consumption compared to similar households in their area. This motivating message is then complimented with personalised tips on how households can best reduce their consumption.

"Having advice at the consumer's fingertips just as they realise their consumption is too high will help motivate the household to adjust their behaviours. They can relate to that information easily, understand they are able to reduce their bills, and are more likely to have a heightened social awareness around sustainability," concludes Guillouzic.

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