Price and behavioural signals to encourage household water conservation: Implications for the UK

Liang Lu (Lead Author), David Deller, Morten Hviid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Water scarcity is a global concern. Even in non-drought situations the political and economic costs of developing water resources may favour conservation. Using a single high price to constrain demand raises distributional and political challenges. Increasing block tariffs (IBTs) have been proposed as a solution, balancing incentives for conservation with an equitable distribution of costs across households. Our survey indicates the international evidence on using IBTs to conserve water is mixed, highlighting the operational challenges of implementing effective IBTs. An alternative approach that may side-step affordability concerns are non-price conservation interventions. Robust evidence on behavioural interventions to conserve water is limited, although social comparisons appear effective. Nevertheless, existing price and behavioural interventions have typically been implemented in response to droughts, thus caution is needed when generalising this evidence to non-drought situations. We discuss the applicability of IBTs to the UK, highlighting an essential pre-condition is detailed research to understand a locality’s water consumers and their water demand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-491
Number of pages17
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number2
Early online date24 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Behavioural interventions
  • Increasing block tariffs
  • Water conservation

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