Pamela Goertzen, Summerhill Sr. Director of Marketing and Stakeholder Relations, Edmonton, Alberta.
Energy efficiency engagement requires not only an understanding of energy efficiency technologies, but often more importantly, the science of behaviour and decision making. So, what better place to catch up on new research, policies, and programs than at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference.
Here is a highlight of the top 9 fun, innovative, and in some cases, sobering things we heard at BECC 2017.
- When people are confused, their tendency is to do nothing. While this seems obvious, how many times have you seen an exhaustive list of energy efficiency tips? Or program eligibility criteria that filled a whole page? This is a good reminder to keep the message and process simple to ensure success.
- Messages of sacrifice just shut people down. Telling customers to sit in the dark with a couple of extra blankets will save energy, but the beauty of energy efficiency is that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort in favour of lower utility bills.
- People will follow the guidance of people they trust the most. According to survey experiments conducted by the Rocky Mountain Institute (www.rmi.org), homeowners see their friends and family members as the trusted source of information on home energy upgrades, while community-based organisations are great resources to reach low-income markets.
- Community dinners can be used as a demand response measure. If you needed any more proof that energy efficiency solutions can be so simple, a study from Quinn Energy (http://www.quinnenergy.com/quinn-talks/2017/6/12/south-sup-project-final-report) demonstrated that short notice community meals can be used as a community wide demand response measure.
- Multi-family engagement tactics need to be tailored to the occupants – but the only thing they may have in common is that they share the same address. There was a lot of discussion around how to reach this market, from deploying an Eco-Concierge (http://www.seventhwave.org/programs/eco-concierge) to using normative feedback.
- Creativity is a great way to reach people. From an energy confessional where people can confess their energy guilt, to NEST sending a special message to customer thermostats asking them to shift energy use during the Solar Eclipse – creativity is endless.
- Energy-saving behaviour change thanks to technology. Home energy reports that show customers how much energy they use in comparison to their neighbours are an energy savings tool that has been used for years. New innovations, such as apps and games, are now also being used to encourage energy efficient behaviours and are backed by EM&V.
- There are alternatives to financial incentives. Snohomish County PUD (https://www.snopud.com/conservation/appliances.ashx?p=1139) has taken a spin on financial incentives by using energy efficient product giveaways in place of cash, generating the same savings with even less investment.
- What have we done to stop climate change? During the short film Greenland Melting, the NASA scientist in the film remarks how he often thinks about the next generation, the kids, asking one day “What did you do when you found out climate change was happening?” Let’s make sure the answer to that question is “Everything we could!”
BECC is billed as “the premier international conference focused on understanding human behavior and decision making to accelerate the transition to an energy-efficient and low-carbon future.” This conference is convened by American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI), and the Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC), Stanford University.