Energy use is not solely determined by the equipment and appliances we purchase, but rather depends on how we use it. ACEEE is researching ways users can change their behavior to save energy, and ways that these behaviors can be encouraged and amplified.
What we do
Behavior and Human Dimensions Program is a ‘laboratory’ where we test behavior change strategies and create the tools for program developers to incorporate into their programs. Our research focuses on measuring and validating impacts of particular social science-derived insights and techniques. We use a combination of methods, including qualitative and quantitative analysis, and field research and ethnography.
Our goal is to support the development and deployment of behavior-based energy efficiency programs and policies. We work on engagement strategies for all areas where energy usage is a critical component, including residences, workplaces, manufacturing environments, and the built environment. We promote the use of usability testing, encourage the adoption of user-centered design, and recommend paying close attention to the technology/behavior nexus.
A sampling of recent projects illustrates the niche in which that ACEEE’s Behavior and Human Dimensions Program works:
- Ethnographic fieldwork with across the Deep South; results available in a report titled, Trusted Partners: Everyday Energy Efficiency in the South.
- Research on the effectiveness of feedback to reduce energy use: Results from Recent Real-Time Feedback Studies.
- A white paper discussing the state of play in Community-based Social Marketing (CBSM) programs, particularly as they apply to Home Energy Retrofit Programs.
- The Greening Work Styles report, a collaboration between the ACEEE Behavior and Buildings Programs on commercial and institutional workplace engagement programs.
As of 2013, the Behavior and Human Dimensions Program is currently working on an effort to develop a taxonomy of behavior program types and evaluate ‘stacks’ of behavior change methods for energy efficiency. We also have field-research planned for the summer of 2013 through a pilot-project with the Association for Energy Affordability in New York. Lastly, since its inception, ACEEE has served as a co-chair for the Behavior, Energy, and Climate Change (BECC) Conference, co-convened with Stanford's Precourt Energy Efficiency Center (PEEC), ACEEE, and the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE).