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Behavioral Assumptions in Energy Efficiency Potential Studies

Date Published: May 1, 2009     Document Type: Report
Sectors: Behavior, Research, Evaluation, & Behavior

This paper is one of a series of white papers commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to address topics in energy use and behavior. It considers the behavioral assumptions in energy efficiency potential  studies, and options for modifying and supplementing these assumptions, using recent California energy efficiency potential studies as the main example. Besides fulfilling planning and administrative roles as intended, energy efficiency potential studies present a statement on what energy efficiency programs can and should do, and even a template for  thinking on the diffusion of energy efficiency and the future energy use of society. Such broader interpretations, of interest outside the utility planning community, transcend the original intended scope of the studies. An analysis of the behavioral assumptions of energy efficiency potential studies properly considers both what is expressed in energy efficiency potential studies on their own terms, as well as what these studies – and device-centered views of energy efficiency in general – miss. This paper addresses both the narrower and broader views of bottom-up energy efficiency potential studies.