Empowering consumers to reduce residential energy waste : designing, implementing, and evaluating the Connecticut neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge
Author(s)Donnelly, Kathy A. (Kathy Ann)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Sanjay E. Sarma.
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This thesis considers behavior change strategies to increase CT residential energy efficiency uptake in the context of an action research pilot. Action research includes experimental pilot deployment within a realworld system, continuously analyzing customers participating in their daily lives. The approach allows for simultaneous planning, execution, and evaluation, as well as concurrent development of major program changes, real-time solutions, and innovative responses. The Connecticut Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge (N2N), in which my research was conducted, was designed to determine the minimum conditions necessary to administer cost-effective community and behavior-based energy efficiency programs. Customers in 14 small towns complete energy savings actions, such as efficient lighting, weatherization, and upgrades, like insulation, appliance upgrades, advanced air sealing, and renewable energy installations. N2N meets customers where they are already going (e.g., in the field) by partnering with local community groups, town governments, low income and senior organizations, faith communities, education facilities, and business organizations, and using social and earned media channels. I describe the N2N opportunity; program design, execution, and evaluation; primary behavioral research, especially the DOE Home Energy Score behavioral economics experiment; and the post-grant transition process. Four main pilot implementation components were used, including: lead generation using behavioral marketing, research, and outreach approaches; a technology platform closely tracking the customer; a continuous process of evaluation; and frequently published results dashboards. The research discovered gaps in program performance that will hinder meeting CT's long-term energy, efficiency, and carbon reduction goals. N2N is also finding evidence of increasing rates of upgrade uptake, where word of mouth and self-herding (e.g., where people follow past behavior) leads to action for others, as well as additional actions in individual households, respectively. The research finds two main recommendations for CT energy efficiency programs: 1) Continue to fund fast-paced, testing grounds for efficiency programs outside of current regulatory constraints to: inform program design and policy decisions, as well as direct market innovation, and 2) Use social and behavioral approaches to encourage viral spreading of efficiency uptake.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Engineering Systems Division, 2013.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 152-164).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering Systems Division.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering Systems Division.