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ACEEE Releases Utility Field Guide

William Opalka

ACEEEChanging customer behavior to save energy, and utilities’ success in doing so, is the subject of a new report from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The Field Guide to Utility-Run Behavior Programs is the first comparative analysis of utility-run behavior programs to help meet savings targets set by regulators and their own requirements. The study counted 281 of these programs offered by 104 energy providers and third parties between 2008 and 2013.

The study aims to focus and clarify terminology about behavior programs for both regulators and developers. After sorting programs by distinguishing features such as delivery channel and incentive type, 20 major program categories grouped in 3 large families:

  • 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 marketing, person-to person efforts, eco-teams, peer champions, online forums, and gifts.

ACEEE recommends that program designers “stack” several strategies—at least one from each family—to engage multiple drivers of consumer decision making. ACEEE constructed this taxonomy to measure success. Once each program fits into a single category, it becomes much easier to compare the success of various strategies in changing behavior, as well their cost effectiveness and how much energy they save.



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