Experimentation and the Evaluation of Energy Efficiency Programs

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published





The use of experiments— particularly randomized controlled trials (RCTs) where subjects are randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions—has rarely been applied to the process of improving the design of energy efficiency programs and, more fundamentally, to determining the net savings from energy efficiency programs. This paper discusses the use of experimentation in the energy efficiency program field with the hope of explaining how these experiments can be used, and identifying the barriers to their use will cause more experimentation to occur. First, a brief overview of experimental methods is presented. This discussion describes the advantages and disadvantages of conducting experiments in the context of the development and evaluation of energy efficiency programs. It then discusses barriers to the use of experimental methods (including cost and equity issues) and suggests some ways of overcoming these barriers. Finally, recommendations are made for implementing key social experiments, discussing the types of energy efficiency programs and issues that can make use of experimentation and variables that one might use for selecting treatments


Energy Efficiency

Year of Publication