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:

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

Lighting Poll Results: Enlightening?

A few weeks ago, I posted a poll trying to get feedback on what kind of barriers people are experiencing with switching to efficient lighting options in their home.  At CERTs, we’re trying to build the most helpful information and decision-making tools.  Additionally, CBSM prefers a rigorous study of barriers, but I wanted to see what kind of potential a poll like this held for getting feedback about a behavior.  

I concede that ‘changing to efficient lighting’ is not a non-divisive action, meaning that the feedback would include barriers to switching to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), LEDs (light-emitting diodes), choosing lighting, etc.  The poll, however, met people where they were in their lighting experience.  Some had switched to CFLs and had mixed reviews, others switched to CFLs and back again, some were going straight to LEDs.  I sent the poll out via my blog via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  I also made special posts to several LinkedIn network groups, ranging from energy professionals to general networking groups

Here are the simple poll results: Continue reading

[Poll!] Change a light? Why not?

Lighting is a simple way to save energy in your home, but I’m discovering how challenging it can be to complete this simple action.  There’s a lot of reasons why it can be difficult.  What do you think?

Thanks for taking the poll!