Managing Residential Energy Demand Through Provision of Better Feedback

by Myles T. Collins

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New and affordable technology for providing detailed feedback on household electricity usage presents a host of opportunities for utilities and policy-makers to manage demand. This dissertation examines ways to use these devices to reduce — and shift the timing of — energy use in the residential sector by influencing consumers' behavior. The first portion of the study analyzes the impact of programmable thermostats on energy use, focusing on residents' knowledge of climate control settings in the dwelling. The main portion of the dissertation focuses specifically on the potential for better feedback on electricity usage to reduce household energy consumption. This study also examines how energy consumption devices should display feedback on greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use under a real-time pricing program. Finally, this dissertation explores ways to maximize the effect of feedback by evaluating which appliances may be best suited for appliance-specific feedback.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Interacting with Home Energy Systems: The Case of Programmable Thermostats and Consumer Awareness

  • Chapter Three

    Reducing Demand through Better Feedback

  • Chapter Four

    Exploring the Effectiveness of Feedback Mechanisms

  • Chapter Five

    Using Feedback to Encourage Load-Shifting

  • Chapter Six

    Maximizing the Effectiveness of Feedback

  • Chapter Seven

    Summary and Conclusions

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in December 2010 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Rob Lempert (Chair), Martin Wachs, and Tom Light.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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