Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The effectiveness of the information environment surrounding the decision to conserve heating energy in residential dwellings was examined in a survey of homeowners in a Southwestern Ontario community. The data indicated that respondents engaged in extensive efforts to acquire information from the environment. These efforts were a product of both a strong need for additional information and favourable perceptions of the costs/benefits associated with accessing the information available. Furthermore, the amount of information search conducted was positively linked to the number of alternatives and criteria considered in the decision process and to the amount of conservation behaviour.;While the above findings portray a rather positive image, there was evidence in the data to suggest that serious gaps existed in the current information environment. For many of the respondents the decision process was plagued with problems. These problems could be traced back to difficulties encountered in the search process. In particular, inconsistencies in the information provided by the various sources left respondents confused as to the effectiveness of many of the conservation alternatives considered. As a means for coping with this additional uncertainty, respondents simplified the decision process by focusing on fewer criteria and/or decided to reject those alternatives of which they were unsure. The data also suggested that for many respondents, difficulties in the information gathering process contributed to outcomes that were unsatisfactory. The respondents' evaluations of the information acquired through their search efforts and their requests for additional information provided further support for the existence of major weaknesses in the current information environment.;Implications are drawn for policy makers devoted to influencing behaviour in this domain and for consumer researchers interested in the deteminants and consequences of search activities. Directions for future research are also provided.



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