PowerPlay: Exploring decision making behaviors in energy efficiency markets

Matthias Ruth*, Clark Bernier, Alan Meier, John Skip Laitner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Computer models are widely used to analyze decisions about energy efficiency improvements in the residential and commercial sectors. Few models exist that can actually be run interactively by decision makers to play out alternative future scenarios. None are available that interactively capture the dynamics, subtleties and complexities of interdependent decisions by utilities, households and firms in an ever-changing technological and economic environment. This paper presents the features and experiences of PowerPlay, a computer-facilitated game which fills that gap and does more: it is a game to be played by at least a dozen player groups who interact with each other, make deals (or break them), plan for the future and revise decisions. The computer model functions like a game board to trace actions and offer choices. The observed behaviors can be analyzed to advance understanding of investment strategies and consumer choices; to generate experimentally-based data on energy efficiency changes; and to provide the basis for analyses that can substantiate or complement historical, time-series driven specifications of energy models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-490
Number of pages21
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2007


  • Consumer choice
  • Efficiency gap
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy policy
  • Experimental economics
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Household appliances
  • Simulation game
  • Technology policy

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