Fieldwork to Document Technology Adoption and Behavior Change Across Diverse Geographies and Populations to Inform Energy Efficiency Program Design

Improving understanding of energy consumption behavior to improve forecasting and efficiency program design.

Indicia Consulting


Menlo Park, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

This project investigated the engagement of households with personal consumer electronics (e.g. smartphones, tablets, laptops) in two utility territories in California. Through extensive analysis of interview data, the research team identified a psycho-social characteristic termed 'cybersensitivity'; Cybersensitives are people who appear to exhibit a greater emotional connection to their phones, tablets, and other personal technology. The research team found that the sample groups segmented according to differentiated behaviors and attitudes related to engagement with devices and attitudes around electricity consumption and conservation. The research team recommend that utilities and other policy-makers, who are seeking larger energy savings, begin by targeting Cybersensitives for participation in feedback programs, using opt-in program design. The Final Report has been received.

The Issue

Technological innovation has been an impressive driver of efficiency gains; however, over time it has become clear that without a greater understanding of the human factors, potential energy savings will remain untapped. The goal of this research is to be able to recommend an alternative energy efficiency potential model. This new model would draw upon variables that are descriptive of culture and behavior among California sub-populations, and demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of programs designed to holistically address how different people experience and respond to technologies.

Project Innovation

This project uses empirical research methods grounded in anthropology and other social and behavioral sciences to explore the factors affecting behavior beyond simple economic rationale. This practice is achieved by documenting and analyzing emerging attitudes, emotions, experience, habits, and practices around technology adoption for purposes of devising predictive indicators for on-going potential studies regarding energy consumption in California.

Project Benefits

Senate Bill 350 (De Leon, 2015) sets energy efficiency targets for 2030 and allows for the targets to be achieved, in part, from utility programs that provide financial incentives and rebates to their customers to increase energy efficiency. This project will help increase customer participation in utility efficiency programs by better understanding the social, cultural and behavior aspects of various subpopulations that discourage or prevent their participation.

Consumer Appeal

Consumer Appeal

Energy efficiency programs that incorporate social, behavioral and cultural aspects into the program design are likely to have greater appeal to potential customers. The research includes recommendations on utility program design

Lower Costs


Understanding social, cultural and behavioral aspects of energy use and technology adoption can help utilities more cost-effectively and efficiently market their energy efficiency programs to hard-to-reach customer groups, result

Greater Reliability


New metrics on the impacts of utility energy efficiency programs for various subpopulations can increase the accuracy of energy demand forecasts used in Long Term Procurement Planning and Resource Adequacy proceedings.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Amy Bayersdorfer

Project Manager

Match Partners


Indicia Consulting


California State University San Marcos


Contact the Team