Smiley faces can be used to help cut energy bills

emoticon Because we’re all stupid apes, apparently our subconscious responds to smiley face or sad face emoticons. And equally, we all have an innate desire to keep up with the Jones’.

A study by Sustainable Homes used both emojis and good old fashioned shame to encourage people to use less energy - giving them a smiley if they’d saved and a sad face if they’d left the iron, the hairdryer and the oven on all night.

And it worked.

In the study - which recruited 450 households over 14 housing associations in England - people saved up to £80 on their bills when they were shown the emoticons based on their household energy use.

They were sent smileys if they used less energy than other similar households, and sad faces if they were using more. The ones that were using more were so ashamed that they soon started to use less, to keep within the norm.

Andrew Eagles of Sustainable Homes said: "These findings will be of great interest to anyone concerned with cutting energy bills - which, of course, is most of us. We know that people are always keen to save money, but what this study uncovers is that their natural desire for approval is at least as important, and probably more so."

So sod the scare stories about climate change - just compare people to their neighbours and watch those meters stop spinning…

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