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What do we know about household energy conservation programs?

  • Communications
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  • Oct 16, 2019
What do we know about household energy conservation programs?

The issue of climate change and how to combat it is top of mind for both the public and for policy-makers. It’s popular for governments and utilities across North America to design programs to encourage households to consume less energy, but little was known about the effectiveness of many of these programs. 

Assistant Professor Brandon Schaufele published a policy brief for the Ivey Energy Policy and Management Centre titled “What do we know about household energy conservation programs? Evidence from Medicine Hat”. The brief reveals that many initiatives designed to promote private investment in energy efficiency deliver fewer benefits than initially promised.

“'Missing' energy conservation does not appear to be due to poorly designed programs or mismanagement. Simply, across a wide range of jurisdictions, these types of schemes have not performed as well as anticipated because, until recently, many of the behavioural responses were poorly understood,” said Schaufele

The policy brief examines Hat Smart, a local energy rebate program in the City of Medicine Hat, as well as, providing an overview of similar energy conservation programs in North America and Mexico. Using the empirical results from HAT Smart’s analysis, Schaufele discusses three program design options worth considering, which may yield better environmental outcomes.