Energy efficiency and behavior change struggle on…

For several years, I’ve been writing about, working in, or incorporating behavior change methods to encourage energy conserving behavior.

And I guess this post is to say: Don’t let up.  We haven’t gotten there yet…perhaps not by a long shot.

In our bag of goodies, we have new arsenal: thermostats that beg us to interact (such as Google’s Nest), smart meter interval data available at our finger tips (see Pepco’s My Account), home displays that happen on our phone (see the latest example in the news), and games among games to play with our family and community to encourage reducing energy.

A survey from KSVC, a marketing firm that appreciates the challenge of this task, has revealed that we’re not too far from where we were back in 2012.  Essentially they found:

“…higher utility bill is easier to cope with than the price of a solution.”

In other words, we haven’t made it harder to cope with a higher utility bill than implementing a solution (whether technological or behavioral).  “Energy efficiency” in the home is still a technology, not a state or category of behavior.

Still need time to turn this ship around... (by james_wheeler via flickr)

Still need time to turn this ship around… (by james_wheeler via flickr)

What energy efficiency means to us is:

  • 53% – Energy Efficiency means efficient products and/or technology.
  • 20% – Energy Efficiency means an expensive investment.
  • 16% – Energy Efficiency means conservation.
  • 10% – Energy Efficiency means not measurable savings.

Maybe it’s still about the words we use (as I noted from Dougherty’s work several years ago).  KSVC tried using the term “energy saving solution” and apparently we found that to mean something different:

  • 35% – Energy Savings Solutions means easy-to-implement, DIY tips.
  • 32% – Energy Savings Solutions means financial savings.
  • 23% – Energy Savings Solutions means conservation.
  • 8% – Energy Savings Solutions means immediate savings.

What does this mean for those trying to nudge greater energy savings out of our community?  We need to continue to find the most salient ways to approach the concept of conservation, find ways to ingrain behavior into habits, and continue to build the social norm by making the invisible visible and sharing stories about one another.  In other words, it’s back to the basics of community based social marketing.

Keep on, keeping on….

Read more about KSVC’s survey and their work at:

Community-based social marketing: A simple summary

It occurred to me earlier today (thank you to one of my readers who pointed it out), that the post I have been referring back to, here, describes what I find most compelling about the community-based social marketing (CBSM) framework, but does not actually explain the framework itself.  

This post offers a very basic and succinct summary of the CBSM framework.

CBSM is a research proven approach to achieve sustainable outcomes in your community.   Continue reading

BECC Wrap-up: Pack it up and Bring it home

The last couple days at the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference have sparked discussion, thinking, questions, and inspiration. I have met and connected with so many smart and motivated individuals — behavior change requires so much thought and creativity. And the people I have met are curious, risk-takers, and driven to find what works (and what doesn’t, in the process). 

Read on for my favorite case studies and takeaways from the week! Continue reading

BECC Day 2: “Can I sit here?” Best networking ever + Keynote take-aways

Just wanted to share this interesting experience I’m having here at BECC.  There’s a lot of people here, over 650, and from all over the nation and world.  So, what are the chances that I unknowingly sit next to four people I know fairly well on my first night?  And two more today?

Apparently very high.  And don’t worry, I’m also meeting many new other people–program designers, social marketing consultants, computer programmers gone energy-geek, and even today’s keynote speaker David Gershon, Founder & CEO, Empowerment Institute and inventor(?) of the EcoTeams concept.

I had a special opportunity over lunch to end up sitting next to Mr. Gershon, where we shared more about each other’s work and he quizzed me (yes) on my take-aways from his keynote.   Continue reading

BECC Day One: Game on! A lesson in gamification

Hello from Washington, DC!  I am at the end of my first evening at the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change Conference.  I think I’ve died and gone to heaven–there are so many incredible people here, with so much experience, and who truly understand the task of changing culture and behavior to meet important environmental and community outcomes.

In the opening evening of the conference, early-arrivals gathered for a social desserts-only networking event.  I’ve already run into several individuals I only hoped to meet and have time to chat with here, and had a wonderful discussion with Cool Choices (see previous post) and a programmer from University of Hawaii about “gamification” for energy savings.

For our networking activities, we played different games, including “two truths and a lie” and even Charades.  As Kathy Kundt from Cool Choices pointed out in her opening talk, games are fun.  “Fun” isn’t necessarily how we’ve branded energy efficiency.  But games can bring that element to the work we value. Continue reading