Understanding and incentivizing participation in EE behavioral programs: resources


Behavioral programs can be a great way to reduce energy use, and crafting the program to give energy users incentives to save is key.

Financial incentives are a great motivator, but non-financial incentives shouldn’t be underestimated. Check out the State and Local Energy Action Network’s recommendations on how non-financial incentives can get energy users informed and motivated. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency shares a public chart summarizing over 100 energy efficiency behavioral programs, and their 2015 summary is available here.

Research on EE behavioral best practices from McKinsey recommends understanding your energy users – whether your behavioral program is targeting municipal employees, residential, commercial, or the community at large. McKinsey focuses in on residential behavioral potential and finds greatest potential in turning out lights, optimizing HVAC set points, and hot water usage.

A 2013 ACEEE study of behavioral EE programs at the utility level identifies three different behavioral program types:

“Cognition programs focus on delivering information to consumers. Categories include general and targeted communication efforts, social media, classroom education, and training.

“Calculus programs rely on consumers making economically rational decisions. Categories include feedback, games, incentives, home energy audits, and installation.

“Social interaction programs rely on interaction among people for their effectiveness. Categories include social marketing, person-to person efforts, eco-teams, peer champions, online forums, and gifts.”

ACEEE recommends all three types – so as a local government, planning a behavioral program of a type not already offered at the federal, state or utility level may be a helpful strategy.


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