What economists can learn from the Bates Motel

December 12th, 2008 by Al Lewis (alewis)

Like Norman Bates’ mother, your gas and electric meters are never seen outside the basement. But this does not have to be the case. (About metering, that is.) Think Outside Of the Box for a minute. What if every day an email appeared on your computer or a text message on your cellphone telling you how much energy – in dollars – you consumed that day?

Wouldn’t you think twice before you walked out of the house with the heat up, or left a room without turning off the lights? When prices are hidden you use more of something. Simply having Toto pull the curtain away from the price, without increasing it, will discourage usage.

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5 Responses to “What economists can learn from the Bates Motel”

  1. scallan Says:

    I’ve always wondered how much these things really cost. You know what you pay a month but how much am I throwing away when I feel the gas coming out of the vents? Your idea is impractical for existing construction but there is no reason that new construction — if there is any — couldn’t be designed this way

  2. georgel Says:

    you could also do this in hotel rooms. We waste tons of energy in hotel rooms. No one turns off the ac when they leave.

  3. nightcrawler Says:

    they ought to have entire rooms where you make the beds and you pay for electricity. Some people g oplaces because they want to be there, not because they want to be pampered. This was the secret of Southwest Airlines. Why don’t hotels do the same thing — have a no-frills rate where you pay for everything separately?

  4. bostonuniversity Says:

    the world is full of things which get overconsumed because we don’t know the price we are paying but how much is electricity anyway? I am not sure we would consume less if we saw how much it was

  5. Joe Says:

    This has been an idea in the works for some time.

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