Programs that drive customers and organizations to save energy through changes in behavior at their homes, businesses and plants can lead to significant energy savings, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). This means helping them better understand their energy use and providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to change the way they use energy.
The report, “Visible and Concrete Savings: Case Studies of Effective Behavioral Approaches to Improving Customer Energy Efficiency,” details several programs that encourage individuals and organizations to save energy by changing their behavior.
Implementing social science-based programs that seek to reduce customer energy use are drawing increased interest from governments, industries, and the public as a way to expand their energy-efficiency efforts to meet their environmental, economic, organizational, and personal goals, says ACEEE.
The report finds that the key factors for success include making energy use “visible” to customers, setting measurable goals, providing incentives and instructions for action, and providing feedback on progress towards customer goals.
The report features case studies of 10 programs that have met a broad range of efficiency targets, ranging from 2 to 20 percent of participants’ energy consumption, using a variety of approaches.
The report also looks at “how employee and management programs create a corporate culture that achieves large energy savings while improving the profitability and competitiveness of manufacturing,” says Neal Elliott, associate director for research, ACEEE in a statement.
Two of the case studies look at how Alcoa and Dow are reducing their total energy footprint through management and employee-led initiatives. For example, Alcoa’s “Make an Impact Initiative,” has prevented the emissions of four million pounds of carbon dioxide.
Dow Chemical has set aggressive energy intensity reduction goals and meets them by incorporating energy management into every level of the company, says the report. The result: 1,700 trillion Btus of energy saved.
Other case studies evaluate transportation sector programs including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership and France’s “feebate” program.
ACEEE researchers conclude that by applying social science to energy efficiency and conservation programs it can lead to increased energy efficiency and reduced energy use.