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Why Ontario is Adopting Behavioral Energy Efficiency

Bicycle rush hour in Copenhagen, where 37% of the population ride their bikes each day.

Bicycle rush hour in Copenhagen, where 37% of the population ride their bikes each day.

Opower will deliver Ontario’s first behavioral energy efficiency program under the Minister of Energy’s Conservation First Framework.

The framework calls for Ontario to invest in energy efficiency, when it’s cost-effective, before pursuing new generation. Behavioral energy efficiency takes into account human psychology to encourage energy savings.

Opower was selected by PowerStream and Collus PowerStream, community-owned energy companies in greater Toronto and central Ontario. The program will offer targeted messaging and personalized energy use advice.

“These new tools that empower our customers to save money and energy demonstrate PowerStream and Collus PowerStream’s commitment to provide a high quality service experience,” said Maurizio Bevilacqua, PowerStream board dhair and Mayor of the City of Vaughan. “Opower’s behavioral energy efficiency program will help us lead the way in supporting the new Conservation First Framework.”

Opower’s Home Energy Reports (HERs) offer a series of customized tips to help customers identify easy ways to lower their consumption and save money. The reports pair behavioral science with Big Data analytics to provide useful information about whether a household’s energy use is in line with similar-sized homes, the time of year, and local weather patterns.

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Bring your own thermostat (BYOT) programs are sometimes part of behavioral energy efficiency…and their use is on the rise.

About 50,000 U.S. utility customers have joined BYOT demand response programs since 2012, according to a new report by Navigant Research. This represents a $12.5 million market, far less than the potential $3 billion market Navigant estimates will exist when and if 20 million customers participate in BYOT demand response.

BYOT refers to utility programs that let customers buy their own device from multiple potential vendors for use in utility demand response. BYOT appeals to utilities because it reduces acquisition costs for load curtailment programs and creates more customer choice.

The downside for utilities? BYOT demand response lowers electricity sales. This is yet another reason the utility business model is being re-examined in places like New York.

More details about the Navigant BYOT report are available here.

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And here is a state that may find itself in need of  behavioral energy efficiency as it tries to get employees to walk or bike to work more.

The little state of Rhode Island set some big clean energy goals at the end of 2015. An executive order by Gov. Gina Raimondo calls for state agencies to secure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025.

The state agencies also must reduce their energy use 10 percent by 2019, and state buildings must achieve high performance green building standards, such as LEED certification.

A quarter of new cars entering the state fleet must be zero-emissions vehicles by 2025. And state employees will be encouraged to walk, bike, or take public transit to work.

The Office of Energy Resources, Department of Administration, and Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will coordinate the program and develop strategies to achieve these goals. The directives are meant to support Rhode Island’s growing clean energy economy. Rhode Island has about 10,000 clean energy jobs, and expects to add about 1,600 more jobs in the next year.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is an editor at EnergyEfficiencyMarkets.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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