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Webinar: Maximizing impact of energy affordability assistance programs

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Wednesday, 20 May 2020, 2:00

Wednesday, May 20, 2020. 2:00 PM. Webinar: Maximizing impact of energy affordability assistance programs. Michelle Hilscher and Sarah Carpentier, BEworks. Sponsored by ACEEE. Register here.

According to a 2018 report by the ACEEE, 24% of all American families carry a high energy burden - defined as spending more than 6% of household income on their energy bills - and that proportion is higher still among low income, African American, and elderly households. The reality behind this statistic is that 24% of Americans are living in dangerously warm or cold homes every day, and making tough choices about whether to pay their energy bills or buy food for their families. High energy burdens have also been linked to respiratory health problems, increased stress, and utility disconnections (ACEEE, 2019).

In response to this crisis, many policy makers have designed programs aimed at providing free energy efficient upgrades to reduce energy bill amounts for this population. However, these programs don’t always see the eager uptake we might anticipate. Why are people in need leaving free money on the table?

In this webinar, Drs. Michelle Hilscher and Sarah Carpentier, two behavioral scientists at BEworks, will discuss the psychological and behavioral drivers behind enrolment in energy affordability assistance programs, including how the barriers of negative social stigma and hassle costs can be exacerbated by the so called “scarcity mindset”. They will present evidence-backed strategies to increase enrolment in these programs among the people who need them most, and will provide behaviorally-informed recommendations for policy makers hoping to effect maximal change to reduce residential energy burden.



  • Michelle Hilscher, PhD, Director, BEworks. Michelle helps clients in the energy and financial services sectors to develop strategies that put behavioural science principles into action.
  • Sarah Carpentier, PhD, Associate, Ideation & Design Lab, BEworks. Sarah has worked on several projects in the energy sector, most notably multiple successful large-scale programs conducted for the Ontario Energy Board designed to change individuals’ energy consumption behaviors.

Location  Webcast