2018 Evaluation, Research and Behavior


The CEE 2018 Annual Industry Report signifies the thirteenth consecutive report offering members and stakeholders a credible resource demonstrating the size and impact of the DSM industry, as well as historical growth and trends. Members have supported data collection and analysis efforts representing 302 program administrators creating a consistent and accurate picture of program expenditures, budgets and savings across 50 states, the District of Columbia, and nine Canadian provinces.


Understanding how new program design approaches and evaluation methodologies are implemented are topics of ongoing interest among Evaluation Committee members. An area of interest for members is attributing benefits to and getting credit from market transformation. CEE staff has surveyed members to understand how market transformation programs are used and evaluated by program administrators across the United States and Canada. In 2018, CEE staff presented findings from this survey to serve as a foundation for information exchange between members for consideration of their market transformation strategies and evaluation efforts including one meeting during which the Committee met to discuss the evaluation of market transformation savings from residential programs that focus on retailers and the products they sell.

The Evaluation Committee has also formed a subcommittee of members to discuss and better understand the challenges of evaluating Strategic Energy Management (SEM) programs. SEM is a holistic approach of managing large commercial and industrial facilities to continuously improve energy performance and achieve persistent energy and cost savings over the long term. SEM is a mechanism for organizational culture change which is very different from resource acquisition activities that most utility DSM EM&V procedures have been developed to deal with. In 2018, the Evaluation SEM subcommittee engaged in discussion of transferable practices for the evaluation of SEM programs. As a result, CEE has developed a list of key considerations of evaluation of SEM, worked with the SEM committee to revise its program summary survey tool to collect information informing evaluation, and created a repository of members’ evaluations supporting attribution of impact to SEM programs.  

In 2018, the Evaluation Committee continued its series of routine Committee calls to address topics of interest to members including a joint call with the residential committees focused on the evaluation of integrated product programs and another call looking at the significance of evaluation of energy relative to members’ integrated resource planning. Evaluation techniques continue to evolve as program design approaches move away from traditional rebate models and program objectives seek impacts beyond total kWh and therm savings.


The myth that people make rational energy use decisions to maximize benefits and minimize drawbacks persists despite extensive social science research to the contrary. CEE seeks to help bridge the gap between current use of behavioral techniques that enhance savings and the wide spectrum of what is possible.

For example, innovative technologies with connected capabilities can provide rich and newly detailed energy information to customers, yet ample research demonstrates that information alone is insufficient to change behavior. CEE members share methods for incorporating connected technologies into their programs in a way that accounts for the underlying behavioral tendencies that impact people’s decision making. This topic is addressed in several ways:

  • In 2018, CEE published to the Forum three new case studies that highlight how members have incorporated connected technology and behavioral approaches into pilots and programs, bringing the total number of posted case studies to 20. These case studies provide members with information on how their peers incorporate behavior insights and tools in combination with connected technologies to improve the effectiveness of their programs. Looking ahead, CEE aims to better understand which behavioral insights might be particularly conducive to spurring energy savings for which connected devices, with the goal of opening the door to additional untapped savings.
  • The 2018 Behavior Program Summary, published in June and detailing members’ behavioral programs and how they are evaluated, includes more than 100 programs each year and is the only annual compilation of energy efficiency behavior programs on such a scale. Many included programs help shed light on how energy efficiency programs have incorporated both connected technologies and behavioral techniques to date and provide insights on the behavioral approaches that may especially lend themselves to use in connected programs. Key Takeaways from the Program Summary highlight some of the common challenges, successes, and lessons learned.

Another valuable annual resource is the tracking list of regulatory decisions that impact program administrators’ ability to claim savings from behavior programs, updated this year with five new decisions. Relevant decisions are now included for 36 different states and provinces.

In 2018, CEE launched a new collaboration with the International Energy Agency (IEA DSM) on its Task 24 behavior project. CEE and the US Department of Energy (DOE) jointly represented the United States in this groundbreaking effort, with CEE acting as the sole participating agent on behalf of US and Canadian program administrators. This project allowed CEE members to draw on the research, outcomes, and expertise of energy efficiency programs and behavior experts around the world in their ongoing efforts to enhance savings from behavioral programs. Given the more open regulatory environment for energy programs in Europe, the EU can serve as a proving ground for new behavioral EE approaches that may be ripe for adapting or piloting here in the U.S. and Canada.



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