As part of efforts to mitigate global warming, the Environment Ministry will be putting a tremendous amount of energy into "nudging" utility customers to stop wasting power.

The verification experiment, based on a theory known as nudge and proposed by a Nobel Prize-winning economist, will cover 300,000 households.

The ministry will reach out to households across Japan with fliers showing the amounts of gas and electricity they are consuming along with power-saving advice.

“We will provide needed information in an efficient manner so all Japanese can conserve energy,” said a ministry official.

The gas and electricity consumption report will be distributed to randomly selected customers supplied with electricity or gas by Hokkaido Gas Co., Tohoku Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co. and Okinawa Electric Power Co.

Created based on the analysis of how each household consumes electricity and gas, the power-saving advice will be sent by mail to customers on four occasions by March.

According to Oracle Corp. Japan, which will carry out the trial, the energy conservation report will tell a user, “You consume 8 percent more power” than the average household with a similar family make-up that lives in the same type of residence.

The report will also, for example, advise that continuing wasting energy at such a pace “could lead to an extra cost of 20,000 yen ($179) in six months.”

Reading the advice is expected to have a psychological impact on the customers and convince them to conserve energy on their own.

The mental mechanism is known as nudge theory and developed by Richard Thaler, a professor at the University of Chicago, who was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2017 for his contributions to behavioral economics.

The ministry’s latest move is aimed at prompting behavior that will result in social and environmental improvements by applying psychological findings to economic practice.

While similar experiments conducted in Europe and the United States have led to an average of 2-percent decrease in power consumption, customers used 1.2 percent less power in areas Hokuriku Electric serves in a past trial as well.

If all households across Japan cut 2 percent of their power consumption, the annual carbon dioxide emissions throughout the country would be reduced by 3 million tons, according to an estimate.

The ministry has earmarked a total of 2 billion yen for four nudge-based verification projects for this fiscal year.