Water Efficiency and Behaviour Change Rapid Evidence Assessment (2018)

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The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned Collingwood Environmental Planning (CEP) through the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) to carry out a rapid evidence assessment (REA) of existing academic and other literature about behaviour change approaches to reducing household demand for water.

The REA is intended to answer two research questions:

What behaviour change approaches have been used to reduce household demand for water and how effective are these approaches?

What key evidence gaps remain in the evidence base and how best could these be filled?

Water companies have a legal duty to promote efficient water use. The main focus for domestic water efficiency programmes or interventions in the UK has been on reducing the amount of water from the public water supply that is used in the home. Behaviour change approaches address an aspect of water demand that is not amenable to engineering, technological or regulatory interventions (Hoolohan, 2015). Common to all behaviour change approaches is an understanding of individual behaviours as open to influence, that is, not fully determined by factors such as engrained cultural habits or technological systems.