- Q?What is a behavior-based energy efficiency program?
Behavior-based energy efficiency programs generate energy savings by engaging people and inspiring changes in attitudes, behaviors and decision-making. These programs provide end users with information on their energy use, along with strategies and communications for how to use less, and offer goals and rewards to encourage energy saving choices.
- Q?Why should I include people in my energy saving effort?
Because people run systems. Your boiler and air conditioners can have the highest ENERGY STAR ratings possible but if the systems they support are not running properly, are not calibrated or are left to run even when the spaces they serve are not occupied, you will never see those savings.
And people use energy. Think of a lunchroom with a light sensor. First someone comes in to make their morning coffee. Then someone comes to put their lunch in the fridge. Then to get water, heat up their soup, read the newspaper headlines. Pretty soon the light has been on for several hours. Now imagine that you’ve asked people to do their part to reduce energy. People turn the light off as they walk out the door. Some might not even turn it on in the first place, instead relying on the daylight coming in the windows. Day after day, month after month, which scenario would you rather see in your organization?
- Q?Why do behavior-based energy efficiency plans work?
Our behavior-based energy efficiency programs address the two sides of organizational change: improving how things are done (organizational procedures and processes) and why things are done (organizational culture and social norms).
We do this by:
- EDUCATING people about why saving energy is important, and how they can help.
- IDENTIFYING opportunities for quick wins and early results.
- ENGAGING people across the organization and asking them to do their part.
- MEASURING and tracking progress toward your energy-saving goal.
- COMMUNICATING and celebrating your results often and with everyone.
Every step of our programs supports organizational change around energy efficiency. Sometimes the connection is apparent, sometimes it’s not. But as people are implementing our programs, both immediate and lasting change are occuring in their attitudes and actions.
- Q?How do behavior programs work?
The goal of a behavior-based energy efficiency program is to help everyone understand how energy is used and to inspire a shift in thinking and action toward using less. Our programs don’t ask one person or group in an organization to do 100 things. Instead, they invite everyone across the organization to do one or two things, every day, to save energy.
Getting this level of participation requires more than just asking people to turn off the lights. At the very least it requires:
- Buy-in from senior leaders willing to visible demonstrate their support for the energy saving effort
- A way to accurately measure organizational energy use and changes in that use
- An internal champion who serves as messenger, opinion leader, role model, “boots on the ground,” and change advocate.
Additional elements that support long-term success include a comprehensive energy plan, an energy steering committee, education and communications, rewards and recognition, a process for identifying and prioritizing energy-related projects, and the consistent use of operation-and-maintenance best practices.
- Q?Can my organization afford a behavior program?
Many organizations equate energy efficiency with asset improvements. They hear the word “sustainability” and feel they need to upgrade their boiler, replace their windows, add a solar panel or put a windmill on their roof. However, in times of tight purse straps, smaller budgets and limited resources, a behavior-based energy efficiency program can be an exceptionally wise investment.
The fact is, energy is a controllable cost. It is something that we use every day, in every aspect of our lives… and we have choices about how to use it. The choice to turn off a light. The choice to shut down the computer. The choice to lower the thermostat.
Doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort? It is. Behavior-based energy efficiency programs can reduce an organization’s energy use and cost by 5-10% in the first year. You do the math. Find out how much your organization spends each year on energy. Then multiple that number by 3%, 5% or 10%, depending on how aggressively you think your organization will embrace an energy saving effort.
Use the resulting follar amounts to estimate a budget for your effort — or to convince others of the value of energy efficiency to your organization.
- Q?What is utility tracking?
Utility tracking refers to the act of managing and tracking your organization’s utility bills. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, keeping track of your monthly bills on an Excel or Google spreadsheet, or even using a more robust program such as QuickBooks, will not provide you with an accurate picture of your organization’s energy use reducation and cost avoidance.
Simply documenting dates and dollars does not allow you to truly analyze other energy use factors such as:
- The length of your billing period
- The current and past costs of energy in your area
- Weather patterns
- Type of energy used – watts, therms, fuel oil, BTU’s
- The amount of energy used now compared to the same time frame in years past (baseline)
Incorporating these factors allows you to accurate attribute yearly differences in energy consumption and costs to changes in behavior rather than changes in the weather. Learn more about CLASS 5 Energy’s Utility Tracking Tool.