Tuesday, November 14, 2023
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
Be Aware to Prepare: Better Choice Architecture for Residential Equipment Failures
Session ID
A5 - Lightning: Residential Programs
Behavior - based Programs

How can we help utility customers be aware to proactively prepare avoiding crisis situations and faulty decision making when replacing HVAC and water heating equipment? Most residential space heating and water heating equipment replacements occur at a time of crisis resulting in customers hastily replacing their home’s equipment. When faced with equipment failure, more often than not, customer replacement decisions are made in a spontaneous and an uninformed manner purchasing and installing like-for-like HVAC and water heating equipment. This crisis mentality inhibits the ability of a homeowner to make an informed choice in selecting the best replacement option. Critical to transforming residential customer behavior is understanding and influencing their decision-making processes. Leveraging a behavioral science-based approach can motivate the customer to become more aware and make better equipment choices when their home heating equipment fails. Behavioral science-based strategies can be used to encourage customers to act proactively by replacing old or inefficient equipment. This paper examines a Michigan-based utility’s innovative approach in equipping customers with more information and a clear understanding of how to proactively replace old, inefficient HVAC and water heating equipment. Customer research included online focus groups and an online survey exploring customers’ attitudes and behaviors around replacing home heating equipment. This paper will explore our key findings around customer attitudes towards maintaining and servicing home heating equipment. We will describe observed differences between customers who proactively replaced their home heating equipment and those who waited until failure to replace. Finally, we will discuss the role utilities may play in helping their customers in becoming aware to prepare, and explore the use of behavioral nudges and choice architecture to design a “Be Prepared Campaign” aimed at helping customer to be more proactive in their planning and investments.

Supporting Document 1