Examining the Heterogeneity of Energy Efficiency Adoption and Savings Across Socio-Economic and Ethnic Groups Using a Large Scale Quasi-Experiment

Assessing variations of social, cultural, and socio-economic factors impacting ethnic energy efficiency decision-making to improve efficacy in energy policy and programs.

The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Berkeley campus


Berkeley, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The project team submitted its Final Report in March 2017, and had its final meeting in July 2017. Project findings suggest that: climate is the strongest variable for customer participation in t SCE's Quality Installation Program (participants in hot areas saved ~1100 kWh annually, compared to 300 kWh in warm areas and 0 in mild areas), savings were higher for lower income homes than for high income homes but lower income homes participated less frequently, the most significant hours for achieving energy savings were shown to be 3-9 pm, and that future energy efficiency programs should be focused on increasing participation of low-income homes in hot areas.

The Issue

Numerous studies have found that consumers are failing to adopt seemingly cost-effective investments in energy efficiency. Current energy efficiency programs and energy demand forecasts do not account for varying participation across social, cultural, and socioeconomic groups. Previous studies have been small scale or based on stated-choice surveys. The results of these studies can be unreliable due to low participation rates, recall bias, and other biases.

Project Innovation

This project conducted a quasi-experimental, econometric study of energy efficiency adoption and energy savings with a focus on differences between social, cultural, and socio-economic groups. The study applied modern economic methods to Southern California Edison's Quality Installation Program, including regression-discontinuity and propensity score matching. The large data sets and rigorous methods resulted in estimates to improve demand forecasts, energy efficiency program design, and future energy studies concerning social, cultural, and socioeconomic groups.

Project Benefits

Senate Bill 350 (De Leon, 2015) set energy efficiency targets for 2030 and allowed 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 team recommended designing future residential energy efficiency programs that target low-income customers in hot climate zones, and account for time-of-use rates in California. Key findings that led to these recommendations were that hot climate zone was a huge factor in getting customers to participate in this HVAC program, low-income households experienced greater savings because existing household appliances were usually less efficient and more noticeably improved, and that energy savings, due to participating in the program, were the greatest between the hours of 3-9 pm in the months of August and September due to peak demand rates.

Consumer Appeal

Consumer Appeal

The project team was able to break out participation by these characteristics to identify differences in program participation and recommend specific opportunities for improved program targeting that could increase electricity sa

Key Project Members

Project Member

Andrew Campbell

Executive Director

Match Partners


The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the Berkeley campus


Contact the Team