Driving Demand for Home Energy Improvements

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Policy makers and program designers in the U.S. and abroad are deeply concerned with the question of how to scale up energy efficiency to a level that is commensurate both to the energy and climate challenges we face, and to the potential for energy savings that has been touted for decades. When policy makers ask what energy efficiency can do, the answers usually revolve around the technical and economic potential of energy efficiency—they rarely hone in on the element of energy demand that matters most for changing energy usage in existing homes: the consumer. A growing literature is concerned with the behavioral underpinnings of energy consumption. We examine a narrower, related subject: How can millions of Americans be persuaded to divert valued time and resources into upgrading their homes to eliminate energy waste, avoid high utility bills, and spur the economy? With hundreds of millions of public dollars flowing into incentives, workforce training, and other initiatives to support comprehensive home energy improvements, it makes sense to review the history of these programs and begin gleaning best practices for encouraging comprehensive home energy improvements.

Looking across 30 years of energy efficiency programs that targeted the residential market, many of the same issues that confronted past program administrators are relevant today: How do we cost-effectively motivate customers to take action? Who can we partner with to increase program participation? How do we get residential efficiency programs to scale? While there is no proven formula—and only limited success to date with reliably motivating large numbers of Americans to invest in comprehensive home energy improvements, especially if they are being asked to pay for a majority of the improvement costs—there is a rich and varied history of experiences that new programs can draw upon. Our primary audiences are policy makers and program designers—especially those that are relatively new to the field, such as the over 2,000 towns, cities, states, and regions who are recipients of American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds for clean energy programs. This report synthesizes lessons from first generation programs, highlights emerging best practices, and suggests methods and approaches to use in designing, implementing, and evaluating these programs. We examined 14 residential energy efficiency programs, conducted an extensive literature review, interviewed industry experts, and surveyed residential contractors to draw out these lessons.

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See the individual Case Studies here:

See the webinars related to this publication here:

Overview of Report Findings & Lessons from Minnesota
September 29, 2010

This webinar covers the major findings of the report and highlights one of the case studies — Center for Energy and Environment's "One Stop" Community Energy Services Program, which puts participants on a conveyor belt to energy savings, including reinforcement of good energy habits, installation of low cost materials, and major home energy improvements.

Driving Demand: Door-to-Door Outreach & Tracking Impacts
October 19, 2010

Will knocking on doors get more homeowners to upgrade their homes? Hear from energy efficiency program managers who are running door-to-door outreach campaigns about what works and what doesn't. Learn from experts who have used door-to-door outreach for political campaigns and neighborhood sustainability programs. Tracking your impact will be vital to learn what works; we'll review some of the key metrics to collect.

Driving Demand: Working With & Learning from Contractors (text-only version)
November 9, 2010

Contractors are often the primary sales force for home energy upgrades. This webinar highlights programs that actively engage the contractor community in program design and implementation. We also will hear directly from several contractors about their views on best practices for driving demand.

Workforce Development and Sales Training for Energy Efficiency Contractors
March 22, 2011

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory reports on the energy efficiency services sector workforce size, expectations for growth, and training needs. Logan Brown from Efficiency Vermont discusses VEIC's contractor development program, including supporting contractors with cooperative marketing and training in business management. Attendees also hear results from Efficiency Maine's contractor training program, as well as options and best practices for developing sales training for contractors — to help them drive demand for energy efficiency programs and measures.

Integrating Experimental Design Into Your Program
August 24, 2011

Experimental design is often used to increase certainty about the actual impacts of a program - and what strategies are worth repeating going forward. There are many ways to add additional rigor to the "experiments" funded by the Recovery Act. This webinar will review some experimental design techniques and give examples of how they might fit into your programs.

See additional resources for Program Managers here:

Best Practices for an Email Campaign
Ideas for the effective use of email communication for programs including links to additional tools and resources for running a successful campaign.

Social Media Tips & Strategies
A list of resources and tips for running your own social media marketing campaign.

Listening to the Voice of the Participant Process
A process guide for taking open-ended survey questions and generating actionable items for program improvement.

Converting the Assessment into an Upgrade: Resources for Program Managers & Contractors
A list of sales training resources and tips for programs and contractors selling energy efficiency.

Integrating Experimental Design into Energy Efficiency Programs
Tool to determine statistical significance of upgrade & conversion rate results

Memo to State and Territory Energy Officials on QECBs
Provides a brief description of Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs) and provides additional links and resources for program managers to get more information.


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