Best Practices for Energy Efficiency and Demand Response Program Evaluation

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A series of recent blog posts about energy efficiency and direct response programs, covered goals, design, security and delivery. This blog post looks at a final, crucial component: Program evaluation, measurement and verification (EMV).EE and DR EMVs are typically done for one of two reasons:

  • To ensure quantitative results and determine whether the program met its energy savings goals. Third parties such as utility commissions often require these evaluations.
  • To achieve continuous process improvement, typically used internally to assess program effectiveness, identify problem areas, and improve customer satisfaction.

Budget wisely

In both cases, many of the best practices are the same. The first is budget-related. According to the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, utilities typically allocate between 2% and 5% of a program’s budget to evaluation.

A good rule of thumb is to allocate 5%, ensuring enough funds to collect all data that’s required. A pilot program will require a bigger budget, since it tends to be smaller and more data is needed.

Bring in evaluators early

In most cases, especially if the EMV is for a utility commission or other outside group, a third party conducts the EMV. The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency Report has examples from seven utility programs. Each used independent evaluator (click here for details).

Even when an internal team conducts the EMV, it’s important to get the evaluators involved early in the process before participants are signed up. This allows the evaluators to have input on data collection needs. This is a crucial step when the program involves customer visits, as it’s desirable to collect all data—such as size of the AC unit or age of the home–during one visit

Engage management and implementation teams

As with any project, communication is crucial to an effective EMV process. Evaluators should present key findings and offer feedback to program staff and management at regular meetings, ensuring that findings are understood and any necessary follow-up actions identified.

Consider industry protocols

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to evaluation processes and procedures. Many utilities now use the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP) to guide their EMV efforts. IPMVP covers best practices for verifying the results of energy efficiency, water, and renewable energy projects. It is available for download at no cost from the Efficiency Valuation Organization.

If you have questions or need additional information, feel free to get in touch with the energy experts at Schneider Electric.

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