In the energy efficiency world, programs that reduce energy use by targeting human behavior are relatively few, but proliferating quickly. In 2013, some US states claimed as much as 28% of their energy efficiency savings from behavior change programs. Like Pokémon Go characters in the wild, some behavior change programs are common, well-known, and seen everywhere. Others are rare and largely unknown. Still others are rarely seen but hold great potential. Utility program administrators may be familiar with a few of these programs, but an expert guide can help identify others and explain the best methods for capturing, collecting and using all of them. A new ACEEE report provides a thorough guide for understanding the world of energy efficiency behavior change programs, and why they work.
Home Energy Reports, the Diglett of behavior change programs
By far, the most common behavior change program implemented by utility program administrators are home energy reports (HERs) that feature social comparison information. These programs reduce energy consumption by giving residents reports on their energy use every one to four months (in addition to their monthly energy bills). The reports tell residents how much energy they used in comparison to similar homes in their region and include tips on how to reduce energy consumption. HERs have been implemented by utilities since 2008 and consistently reduce electricity use by about 1-2% (and gas by roughly 0.5-1%) by the end of their second year. The ACEEE report summarizes 30 such programs that were evaluated since 2013, and examines questions such as: How long do savings persist? Should HERs be delivered by paper or email? Should participants be automatically enrolled? How frequently should HERs be delivered? Like Diglett, these programs are common and well known. They play a significant role in shaping the landscape of behavior programs.
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