General best practices for marketing energy efficiency initiatives are discussed in Chapter 11.
Successful energy efficiency marketing strategies include the following:
Leverage existing communications channels
Public power utilities have a variety of communications vehicles—including web sites, call centers, newsletters, and bill inserts—that can be leveraged to distribute energy efficiency information to the community. Feature customer and trade ally success stories in newsletters to encourage broader program participation.
Ensure that customer service representatives and other key staff that interact with customers are familiar with energy efficiency program offerings. Conduct internal trainings and provide scripts with relevant program information.
Expand web capabilities
Dedicated energy efficiency program web pages make it easy for customers to find relevant information, including downloadable incentive applications and information about program eligibility. Online energy audits and other informational tools help customers identify common energy savings opportunities. Some utilities allow customers to access historical energy consumption data via the web.
- Public power example: City Utilities of Springfield's EnergyWise web page makes it easy for residential and commercial customers to find rebate information, request an energy audit, and access web-based informational tools.
- Public power example: Salt River Project's Home Energy Manager features an interactive tool where residential customers can get energy savings tips and information, and a home energy analysis tool where customers can estimate how much they would saving by upgrading to efficient lighting, appliances, and heating and cooling systems.
Partner with ENERGY STAR
The ENERGY STAR program, jointly administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, provides a powerful marketing platform that utilities can leverage in energy efficiency promotions. By partnering with ENERGY STAR, utilities can access downloadable ENERGY STAR logos as well as a variety of other free resources—including publications, web tools, and national campaigns—that can be incorporated into the utility's marketing efforts.
- Public Power Example: Washington EMC's web site links to the ENERGY STAR @ Home web tool and encourages customers to take the ENERGY STAR Pledge.
Leverage trade allies
Make sure retailers, equipment suppliers, contractors and other program partners are aware of energy efficiency program offerings and understand how they can leverage programs to benefit their businesses. Conduct outreach through organizations trade allies already belong to (local home builders associations, chapters of heating and cooling contractor associations, etc.). Create a dedicated web page for trade ally information. Develop informational and marketing materials that trade allies can use to communicate energy efficiency information to their customers. Investigate opportunities for point-of-purchase signage to communicate information on available incentives. Consider funding cooperative advertising with trade allies. Develop case studies showing how trade ally businesses have benefited from partnering in energy efficiency promotions.
Leverage program participants
Particularly for business customers, participant success stories are an effective strategy to motivate participation among peers and competitors. Case studies are one mechanism for sharing information about energy efficiency projects that received program support.
- Public power example: Austin Energy provides online templates so that residential and commercial customers can submit information on their green building projects and features completed case studies on their web site.
Sponsor demonstration projects
Demonstration projects are a powerful way to educate customers about comprehensive energy efficiency improvement strategies such as whole-house retrofits and energy efficient new construction. They are also an effective educational and marketing tool for engaging local trade allies, such as home builders and contractors. Home energy makeover contests are one type of demonstration project that is growing in popularity. The utility administers the contest and pays for the efficiency improvements made by the grand prize winner. Homes with the highest energy use are selected from contest entries and receive comprehensive home energy diagnostic services (e.g., blower door test, infrared scan, duct blaster test). Local retailers and equipment suppliers donate energy efficient products and local contractors provide the upgrades. Some programs have partnered with local media organizations to feature coverage of both the diagnostic stage and implementation stage of the process.
- Public power example: A success story describing the home energy makeover contest sponsored by Delta-Montrose Electric Association provides additional details on this type of demonstration project.
- Public power example: Through the GreenMax Home program, WPPI Energy solicits proposals from individuals, builders or architects interested in receiving utility funds to build a "net zero energy home"—a home that, through energy-efficient construction techniques and the use of renewable energy systems, has the capacity to produce as much energy as it uses.
Leverage community groups
Civic groups, business associations, economic development agencies, churches, and other nonprofits make excellent community partners in spreading the word about energy efficiency program offerings. Seek opportunities to meet with community groups to share information about energy efficiency programs. Help groups distribute information to their membership. Partner with community groups in sponsoring public events that raise awareness about energy efficiency. Sponsor a CFL fundraiser, where schools and nonprofits raise money and educate the community through sales of energy efficient light bulbs.
- Public power example: A white paper from the proceedings of the ACEEE 2008 Summer Study describes CFL fundraisers sponsored by the Orlando Utilities Commission and Delta-Montrose Electric Association.
Conduct media outreach
Local press coverage helps to raise the profile of energy efficiency efforts in the community. Issue a press release to announce the launch of energy efficiency initiatives. Keep media informed about community events and demonstration projects.