Constructing an Initial Data Collection Plan for a Behavioral Energy Efficiency Program
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Existing residential energy efficiency programs, using energy audits and rebates to address barriers to homeowner participation, have experienced anemic participation and savings rates. A new generation of local efficiency programs, encouraged by U.S. Department of Energy funding, are using the tenets of behavioral economics to address non-rational economic attitudes preventing homeowners from implementing energy saving actions. But rigorous evaluation techniques are required to assure that these programs are providing better performance. This project creates an evaluation prototype for a case study program: the Neighbor-to-Neighbor Energy Challenge (N2NEC) in Connecticut. This prototype is specifically based on a snapshot of the N2NEC program activities and program documentation after their initial program planning and immediately prior to program start-up. This original evaluation prototype uses a process framework to specify the activities to be evaluated, and uses an evaluation plan framework to specify the evaluation to take place. The process framework model and evaluation plan framework have been specifically customized for this research project, though they are based in the evaluation literature and community-based programs best practices. A specific priority is that the frameworks be feasible for implementation by a community-based program. The evaluation plan consists of research questions, associated research and analysis methods, and the data requirements needed to satisfy the question. As a second research component, the data requirements for the prototype are then compared to an inventory of actual data fields that N2NEC planned to collect, derived from a review of N2NEC planning documents. The comparative analysis shows that the prototype data requirements are covered fairly well by N2NEC's available data, though it would be useful to have more formalized data on collaborations with community organization, information that is likely informally held by program staff, and information on how the commitments by program participants are recognized publicly to reinforce their effect.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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