Energy education programmes for children are hypothesized to have great potential to save energy. Such interventions are often assumed to impact child and family behaviours. Here, using a cluster-randomized controlled trial with 30 Girl Scout troops in Northern California, we assess the efficacy of two social cognitive theory-based interventions focused on residential and food-and-transportation energy-related behaviours of Girl Scouts and their families. We show that Girl Scouts and parents in troops randomly assigned to the residential energy intervention significantly increased their self-reported residential energy-saving behaviours immediately following the intervention and after more than seven months of follow-up, compared with controls. Girl Scouts in troops randomly assigned to the food-and-transportation energy intervention significantly increased their self-reported food-and-transportation energy-saving behaviours immediately following the intervention, compared with controls, but not at follow-up. The results demonstrate that theory-based, child-focused energy interventions have the potential to increase energy-saving behaviours among both children and their parents.
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We thank our data collectors—especially S. Karp, K. Khalil and K. O’Connor—as well as those who helped with data analysis and management—particularly S. Bryson, M. Fujimoto, F. Haydel, A. Mitani and C. Zanocco—and logistics and implementation—principally S. McCarthy and C. Wantanabe. We are grateful to the Girl Scouts of Northern California for their participation, without which this research would not have been possible. In particular, we appreciated the opportunity to work closely with the Girl Scouts and leaders of the participating troops, as well as K. Miller and J. Fahy. Funding for this work was provided by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-e) Program (Grant no. DE-AR0000018), California Energy Commission (Grant no. PIR-10-054), the Child Health Research Institute at Stanford University, and Precourt Energy Efficiency Center at Stanford University. REDCap is supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health (Grant no. UL1 RR025744). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of any funders.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Boudet, H., Ardoin, N., Flora, J. et al. Effects of a behaviour change intervention for Girl Scouts on child and parent energy-saving behaviours. Nat Energy 1, 16091 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2016.91
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