Future options for managing customer demand for water – March 2019

Practice area: Behavioural Economics | Consumer and firm behaviour | Regulatory economics | Water and sewerage
Client: Yorkshire Water
Published: 21 March, 2019

Yorkshire Water commissioned London Economics to write a paper on interventions to manage water demand with a special focus on interventions which use behavioural economics. The paper also assessed the effectiveness of temporary use bans (TUBs), commonly known as ‘hosepipe bans’, which must be introduced in times of severe droughts.

A rapid evidence assessment of academic, policy, practitioner and grey literature was conducted. The paper found that TUBs have rarely been robustly assessed and thus evidence on their effectiveness is relatively scarce. It appears that alternatives such as messaging campaigns which use insights from behavioural economics, such as use of social norms, can increase engagement and be similarly as effective as TUBs.

The paper also provides an overview of methods available for piloting water demand management interventions and a detailed methodology for designing randomised controlled trials for piloting.