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Changing Behaviours: What do Twinkly Lights and Icebergs Have to Do with Saving on Your Energy Costs?

Where many see beauty in pictures of iconic cityscapes lighting up the night sky, energy efficiency experts see wasted resources and missed opportunities. But leaving unnecessary lights on is just the tip of the iceberg.


A behavioral study released by UC Berkeley and the California Air Resources Board observed that while operations can save 5-30% of energy used in their buildings by making simple low cost changes, these changes often go unmade. When we know what the problem is, and we know how to solve it, but we still don’t act, it’s time to make behavioural changes. If energy conservation saves money, what’s preventing us from acting on this knowledge? What behavioural changes are needed for effective energy conservation and management?


Several years back, my path crossed with Tim Cork’s, a gifted author and speaker who wrote a book about behavioural change. In it he discusses how to achieve “straight A’s” in life through Attitude, Aptitude and Action, by tapping more than just the tip of the iceberg of your potential. He observes that, if you’re like most people, your greatest potential will remain below the surface, like an iceberg with 90 per cent of its mass concealed beneath the water. Yet this is what must be tapped if you are to realize all the possibilities in your life.


The energy management journey is very similar to what he describes. As most of an iceberg’s mass lies under water, so most of the solutions are below the surface and difficult to visualize and act upon. To explore all of your possibilities, you must find a way to tap the hidden strengths in your organization so you can earn “straight A’s” in your energy improvement goals through an Attitude change in yourself and your organization, developing your energy management Aptitude, and taking decisive Action. And finally, I would add a fourth “A” to the mix: Analysis.


Get the entire team’s buy in. The most effective way to drive corporate behavioural change and positively influence energy management is to get your people passionate about and buying into your goals and vision. Although technology plays a huge part in energy management, it’s the people in your organization who know the facilities, the equipment and the improvement opportunities. Listen to them and get them involved.


Develop your energy management aptitude. Aptitude is expressed in interest, and is reflected in performance which is expected to improve over time with practice and training. Focus on continuous incremental improvement. To relate it to your golf game, continuous improvement is not about getting a hole in one. The consistent player, playing a steady game, will outperform the long driver who cannot putt. Involve your people by showing them what decreasing your electricity costs means to your particular business and work with them on performance improvement.


Take action, but first have an action plan. Set energy goals — set baselines and establish targets. Get a clear picture of your historical metrics. I suggest using the last 24 months as a baseline to build from, and I can help you with this. Our Bruce Power Saver tool helps you visualize your consumption behavior, establish baselines, identify opportunities to save and act upon those insights.


Analyze and measure your results. Analyze your performance against internal or external comparison groups and measure your efficiency efforts. The Bruce Power Saver can aggregate your energy information from various locations into a single cloud-based management system, help you set your benchmarks, remove the effects of weather and production variables, and even verify your bills not only to confirm the math so you’re never overcharged, but also to identify cost-saving opportunities. Regularly analyzing your data can help you eliminate wasteful electricity use, identify anomalies and develop a continuous plan for improvement.

Behavioural change can be uncomfortable, and adapting to change is isn’t easy. Many organizations still aren’t making simple changes that could save significant amounts on their energy bills. The Bruce Power Saver can help improve your energy management immediately and cut your energy costs.


Interested in how you can start impacting behavior to help conserve energy and manage costs? Learn about our “Crawl, Walk, Run” approach to managing energy cost. Click below to view our short webinar.

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Cork, Tim. Tapping the Iceberg – Achieve Straight A’s in Life Through Attitude, Aptitude, and Action, 2013. BPS Books.