2017 IEPEC Paper - Keep the Change Behavioral Persistence in Energy Efficiency Programs

Date Published


For years a key barrier to implementing behavioral energy efficiency programs has been uncertainty about how long any energy savings achieved may last, known as persistence. This uncertainty has led many jurisdictions to continue to hold behavioral programs to a one-year measure life, even though savings may last longer. Improving our understanding of the duration of persistence is crucial for both program and portfolio design, particularly due to the potential implications for cost-effectiveness, program credibility, and more accurate resource planning. This paper synthesizes and details recent findings on behavioral persistence from a variety of behavioral energy efficiency persistence studies. It sheds light on how rapidly savings from behavioral programs may decay after a program has ended, explores factors that may encourage or hinder that persistence, and offers a list of topics that are particularly ripe for future behavioral persistence research.

The scope of this secondary research effort was primarily restricted to Home Energy Report (HER) programs. This approach was used simply because HER persistence has been the most widely and rigorously tested to date relative to other behavioral program models. While some of these findings may be relevant as a starting point for beginning to understand behavioral persistence in general, it is important to note that these findings are not directly transferrable to other program types. Despite this limitation, the results provide an important foundation for future research in pursuit of a better understanding of behavioral persistence overall.