Unlocking the Potential of Behavioral Energy Efficiency

By establishing behaviour-based energy efficiency programs, utilities can save a lot more energy.
Published: Wed 11 Jun 2014

The demand for energy is escalating and as generation is ramped up to satisfy this hunger for electricity, the environment suffers as a result and energy costs increase.

While the use of clean energy is one way in which to slow climate change to a certain extent, the efficient use of energy has the potential of cutting growth in global energy demand in half, according to the International Energy Agency.

Behaviour has a large impact

While technology helps us to achieve various levels of energy efficiency, our behaviour towards consumption. Our choices and consumptions have a large impact on energy efficiency levels.

According to Opower’s report, Unlocking the Potential of Behavioural Energy Efficiency in Europe, utilities can save a lot more energy through the implementation of behaviour-based energy efficiency programs. These can also improve customer satisfaction since they will feel more empowered to better manage their energy consumption and bills. Similarly, policymakers responsible for delivering energy efficiency programs also stand to benefit from having one more tool in their toolbox.

Emily Hallett, Associate Director of Solutions Marketing in EMEA of Opower, points out that the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) can save 12 TWh and more than 3MMT CO2e, and drive energy awareness that makes people more willing to participate in other efficiency programs.

Hallet adds that the Bureau of Energy Efficiency programs are equally effective for fuel-poor homes, which have historically been the most difficult to reach.

To drive savings from behavioural energy efficiency, energy savings obligations have to be structured. Hallet points out that the Bureau of Energy Efficiency should be included as an approved measure and innovation in energy efficiency approaches should be encouraged as long as they meet performance bars.

Improve customer engagement

Utilities can use behavioral energy efficiency to improve customer service and strengthen customer relationships by providing customers with the tools and information they need to save. By doing this, utilities will strengthen their customer relationships demonstrably, explains Hallett.

Based on this, it is clear that the Bureau of Energy Efficiency can be a powerful tool for utilities looking to improve their customer relationships.

To maximise Europe’s energy savings through behavioural efficiency programmes, Opower makes the following recommendations to regulators and utilities:

1. Claim the achievable potential today — Behavioural energy efficiency is available and cost-effective for over 149 million European households right now.

2. Include behavioural interventions in all energy efficiency frameworks — Program administrators should include behavioural interventions in all efficiency portfolios.

3. Include behavioural interventions in all Resource Potential Studies — To focus resources on the programmes with highest potential, all Resource Potential Studies and portfolio planning exercises should survey behavioural interventions.

Hallett suggests to utilities: “Provide some tools for everyone so that you can broadly market the programme. Then, reinforce this feedback via multiple channels, and use this platform to market your other initiatives.”

Emily Hallett and Guy Newey, Head of Environment and Energy Policy Exchange, expand on this subject on our webcast, Quantifying the Potential of Behavioural Energy Efficiency in Europe.