2017 Evaluation, Research, and Behavior


In addition to Program Performance Benchmarking, members supported data analysis representing 306 program administrators to successfully publish the CEE 2016 Annual Industry Report, creating a consistent and accurate picture of program expenditures, budgets and savings across 50 states, the District of Columbia, and nine Canadian provinces. This was the twelfth consecutive CEE industry report offering members and stakeholders a credible resource demonstrating the size and impact of the DSM industry, as well as historical growth and trends.


Understanding how new program design approaches and evaluation methodologies are implemented are topics of ongoing interest among Evaluation Committee members. An area of growing prominence is attributing benefits to and getting credit from market transformation.

Over the course of 2017, CEE staff, in consultation with several Evaluation Committee members, developed a survey to capture how market transformation programs are used and evaluated by program administrators across the United States and Canada. The survey development process made it clear that the term “market transformation” has broad usage across the industry, but its definition varies from region to region and organization to organization. The Committee’s efforts were not to determine a universal definition of “market transformation programs” distinct from “resource acquisition programs,” but rather to sufficiently frame the definitions so that respondents had a basis upon which they could discuss and learn from each other’s evaluation of market transformation efforts.

The survey primarily focuses on gathering actionable insight into prevailing market intervention strategies, their development, and associated evaluation methodologies, in order to provide members with an understanding of the spectrum of available approaches. Data from this survey is serving as a foundation for information exchange to enable more comprehensive consideration of market transformation strategies and impacts across the membership. Conceivably, the resources developed through this effort could be used by members in bolstering the articulation of program impact with reguators.


Demonstrably false through accepted social science research, many still assume that people make rational energy use decisions to maximize benefits and minimize drawbacks. CEE seeks to help bridge the gap between current use of behavioral techniques that enhance savings from connected technologies 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 behavior. In 2017, 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 17. These case studies provide members with information on how others incorporate behavior insights and tools in combination with connected technologies to improve the effectiveness of their programs.

CEE behavior work sheds light on how energy efficiency programs have incorporated both connected technologies and behavioral techniques to date and provides insights on the behavioral approaches that may especially lend themselves to use in connected programs. The 2017 Behavior Program Summary 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. Key Takeaways from the Program Summary provide highlights of some of the common challenges, successes, and lessons learned.

In 2017, the Behavior Committee compiled behavioral recommendations that were included in the Connected Committee’s draft Communicating Thermostats Specification, which is currently under development. These optional specification criteria provide actionable insights for manufacturers about how new devices can incorporate behavioral social science knowledge to encourage behavior changes that will help communicating thermostats save energy.

A valuable 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 31 different states and provinces.

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.


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