Monday, September 24, 2012

Nice Cartoon and explanation using Solar Panels to illustrate a concept called "Conspicuous Conservation".


This cartoon illustrates a concept I heard discussed in a Freakonomics Podcast: "Conspicuous Conservation and The Prius Effect"---It means people tend to purchase/consume a good or service primarily if others see them (or are overtly aware) do so. 

A good deal of satisfaction ("Utility")  derived from consuming the good/service comes from the recognition or affirmation of others. 

Source: Explosm.net
This may not matter much in most cases. So what if you want to be known as environmentally aware? You have done a good deed and others explicitly  know about it.  No harm, no foul, right?

In the Podcast mentioned above, the researchers give an example of how this can actually be inefficient and detrimental.

In Southern California people are getting lots of solar panels installed on their homes. Good thing.

However, in many cases installers recommended, for maximum efficiency and sun exposure, the solar panels be installed on a section of the house that was not visible from the street. 

The homeowners protested and had them instead install them on the front of the house, presumably so their neighbors, and others, would see them.

Not efficient, but "Conspicuous".

I highly recommend this podcast found HERE.
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