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Behavioral-based energy efficiency programs are those that utilize strategies intended to influence consumer energy use behaviors to achieve energy and/or peak demand savings. These programs typically include outreach, education, competition, rewards, benchmarking, and/or feedback elements (Todd et al 2012). In North America, over 110 investor-owned utilities included behavior programs in 2012 as part of their energy efficiency portfolios, allocating 0.3 to 10 % of their efficiency portfolio spending to these programs. Emerging plans in Massachusetts allocated as much as 50 % of first year kilowatt hour goals to behavior programs in 2014. Despite the overwhelming growth in spending on these programs, there are many unanswered and important policy questions that must be addressed. This paper argues that the energy industry needs to go further than just assessing energy impacts to address existing gaps in knowledge and find ways to most effectively incorporate these programs into efficiency portfolios. First, the paper presents an overview of behavioral feedback program lessons learned from third party evaluations across North America. Next, a brief analysis of gaps in industry knowledge of how behavioral programs generate savings is provided. In the last section, policy- and planning-focused research questions that need to be answered as behavioral feedback programs mature are discussed. To date, there has been an overwhelming focus on impact evaluations, and there are many key questions that need to be addressed. Future evaluations must focus on both impact and policy questions by addressing existing gaps in knowledge about how behavioral programs generate energy savings and exploring the most effective ways to integrate these programs into program portfolios.
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- Behavioral energy feedback program evaluations: a survey of current knowledge and a call to action
Sara Conzemius Van de Grift
- Springer Netherlands
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