Program Mistake: Thinking Energy Savings Drive Home Improvements

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Mona_LisaYes, energy-efficiency programs are intended to save energy. The goal, however, shouldn’t be confused with the educational and marketing approach.

I know I’m repeating myself on this point, but it’s important before moving on to remind folks that people buy things–including widgets and measures that save energy–for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with energy.

It’s worth reminding those in the efficiency space Amory Lovins aphorism “People don’t want heating fuel or coolant, people want cold beer and hot showers.” Or mobility, or illumination, or their daughter’s bedroom not to be freezing all winter. This maxim applies not just when contractors are selling things. It applies to programs, too.

In a recent post, Seth Godin hit it from another direction: “Your first mistake might be assuming that people are rational. Your second mistake could be assuming that people are eager for change. And the marketer’s third mistake is assuming that once someone knows things the way you know them, they will choose what you chose.”

Contractors on the ground know that to scale, and to sell efficiency you must focus on what people really want rather than simply assuming people want to save energy or buy insulation. People buy what they want.

Programs need to remember that in their design and implementation. In their marketing and in their outreach. And as I discuss next, regulators and policy-makers need to remember that when they are measuring success.

See also “Good Information and Financing Don’t Lead Directly to Buying Energy-Efficiency“.

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About the Author:

Mike Rogers is the President of OmStout Consulting. A nationally recognized expert in residential energy-efficiency, he works with contractors and programs to scale sustainable market approaches to improving homes. More on Google+

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