Virtual Course

Designing Efficiency Programs to Serve Your Customers

Learn how to design an energy efficiency program that achieves your utility’s strategic goals while serving your customers. Integrate Design Thinking exercises and other tools to generate ideas and insights to inform program design.
February 3, 2020
12:00pm EST - 3:30pm EST

Virtual Training

Join us on February 3 as we debut this course as a 3.5-hour interactive virtual class (through Zoom). It’s a convenient way to 'attend', while still having the opportunity to interact with the instructor, your industry peers, and earn continuing education credits. This course combines real-time presentation, small group breakout sessions, case studies, and Q&A sessions.


Participate in one, real-time session from Noon – 3:30 p.m. Eastern on February 3. There will be a 15-minute break incorporated. 

Attendees may also be interested in the Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Distributed Energy Resources virtual course, taking place on February 10. 

Course Overview

Who do you want to reach with your programs? How will you do this? Many utilities are leveraging insights from the fields of marketing and behavioral science to better meet the needs of their customers. The shifts occurring in the energy industry make this more important than ever. Learn how to design an energy efficiency program that achieves your utility’s strategic goals while serving your customers. Learn how to define and target specific customer markets and deliver the value that customers expect. Integrate Design Thinking exercises and other program planning tools to generate ideas and insights to inform program design. You’ll walk away from this course with tools that you can leverage immediately to improve your programs.

Course Topics

  • Market assessment — identifying customer barriers and motivations and using market research techniques to inform program design
  • Program design — selecting a program approach to match utility and customer goals and resources to overcome customer barriers
  • Cost-effective programs for different customer classes — prescriptive and custom rebates, upstream programs, financing, etc.
  • Design Thinking exercises to generate ideas and insights to inform program design
  • Behavioral science insights and marketing techniques to effectively engage customers

Sample Agenda: Feb 3

Noon - Introductions and Laying the Groundwork

  • What is energy efficiency and what are the benefits?
  • Influence of state and national policy on public utilities
  • Covid-19 impacts to our industry

12:15 p.m. - Market Assessment

  • Who are you reaching? How do you know?
  • Market and programs
  • Target markets and submarkets

12:30 p.m. - Understanding Your Customer

  • Market barriers
  • Customer research
  • Human-centered design
  • Empathy to drive insights
  • Extreme users

1 p.m. - Break

1:15 p.m. - Selecting a Program Approach

  • Midstream/Upstream/Downstream Programs and the benefits
  • Meeting customers’ needs
  • Incentives
  • Financing
  • Technical assistance
  • Direct installs
  • Behavior
  • Education and outreach
  • Comprehensive programs

2:15 p.m. - Break

2:30 p.m. - Program Design with Design Thinking

  • Opportunities for behavioral science
  • Reducing risk to your programs with A/B testing and prototyping
  • Exercise

3 p.m. - Using Design Thinking Tools to Improve Your Work

  • Key points and resources
  • Action steps

3:30 p.m. - Adjourn

Recommended For

This practical course is designed for utility staff and policymakers that are interested in learning about energy efficiency program design and design thinking concepts.  

This course is part of APPA’s Energy Efficiency Management Certificate Program and is a good complement to the Innovations in Energy Efficiency and Distributed Energy Resources virtual course, taking place on February 10 (also led by VEIC). 

Course Level

Basic: No prerequisites; no advance preparation. 

Technology Requirements

Attendees are required to have strong Internet access, in order to run the Zoom meeting platform. You will need to enable computer audio to listen and speak (alternatively a call-in number will be provided) and it’s also recommended that you have a webcam, so you can fully engage in the small group breakout exercises.  

Course Materials

Zoom log in credentials will be sent out the day before class.

Attendees will receive access to APPA’s secure electronic document portal a week before the course, where the eManual will be made available. The session will be recorded and can also be accessed through this portal, in case you can’t attend the live version. 


The following continuing education credits will be provided, after successfully completing the live session. Certificates will be emailed out by February 10. The session will be recorded, though certificates can only be awarded to those who participate in the live event (click here to review requirements).

Recommended CEUs .3/PDHs 3.25/CPEs 3.8
Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge


EPElizabeth Palchak, Ph.D., Senior Consultant, VEIC 
Elizabeth is a Senior Consultant at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) with a PhD in behavioral science. She brings the customer perspective to the energy industry in her work with utilities across the country. She supports program design on an array of efficiency solutions with emphasis on underserved customers like low-income customers and communities of color. Beyond her work designing programs for utilities, she works closely with universities and colleges and other commercial customers on sustainability challenges and strategic energy management. Elizabeth has a long career in teaching and is an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont and Vermont Law School. She works hard to keep her classes engaging and interesting.


Contact us at [email protected].

Register Now

Registration fees:

  • $350 for members
  • $700 for nonmembers

Not a member? Join today and save on your course registration. Call Member Services at 202-467-2926 to learn more.

Group Discounts

Save an additional $50 on each when your organization registers 5 or more people. The larger your group, the more you save!

Number of registrants

(per person)

Registration Fee

Registration Fee

















Contact [email protected] for more information and to request the group registration form to receive this special discount.  


Registrants who cancel in writing on or before January 27, 2021, are entitled to a refund of their registration fee, minus a $50 cancellation fee. Registrants who cancel after January 27 will not receive a refund, but attendee substitutions will be allowed for this event only. Registrants and no-shows who do not cancel by January 27 are responsible for the full registration fee and are not entitled to a refund. Email your cancellation request to [email protected].


Contact [email protected].

Earn While You Learn!

Participate in online programs to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs), Professional Development Hours (PDHs) and Continuing Professional Education credits (CPEs). This course is eligible for the following credits:

Recommended CEUs .3/PDHs 3.25/CPEs 3.8
Field of Study: Specialized Knowledge

What educational credits are available?

You can earn the following kinds of continuing education credits for attending live sessions during this event—provided the following requirements are met:

Requirements for Successful Completion

  • Attendees are required to attend and participate in 90% of the live event and complete an online evaluation at the end of the session
  • Partial credit cannot be given for partial attendance
  • Attendance is monitored by an APPA staff member during the event, through an online report log, and upon review of the post-event evaluation data
  • Completion certificates will be emailed out within one week of a live event (for those who meet the requirements)
  • Virtual sessions are recorded (attendees automatically receive access to recordings within a week of a live event), though continuing education credits can only be given for attending live events


IACET logoContinuing Education Units (CEUs) - The American Public Power Association is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) and is authorized to issue the IACET CEU. For information regarding certification status, attendance requirements and obtaining attendees transcripts, contact [email protected] or 202-467-2965. Verify our IACET Accreditation.

CPE logoContinuing Professional Education (CPE) Credits - The American Public Power Association is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: Unless noted, there are no prerequisites for the courses offered and no advance preparation is required. Courses are group-internet based offerings at the basic program level (unless otherwise noted). Credit hours and areas of study for the courses are listed on the individual course pages. For more information regarding administrative policies, such as clarification of requirements, complaints, and refunds, please contact [email protected].

Professional Development Hours (PDHs) -  The American Public Power Association’s educational practices are consistent with the criteria for awarding Professional Development Hours (PDHs) as established by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Course eligibility and number of PDHs may vary by state.


Format and Log-In Information

This class will be offered on the Zoom meeting platform. Presented in one interactive session, featuring real-time presentation, small group breakout sessions, case studies, and Q&A sessions

You’ll receive a logistics email one week in advance of the class

You will receive your Zoom access link the day before the course from the APPA Academy <[email protected]>. Please reach out to [email protected] if you do not receive that email.

New to Zoom?

If you haven't participated in a Zoom meeting before, please download the Zoom web client from the Zoom Download Center. This will enable you to access all of the Zoom tools and functionality vs. using the web version. For the course, you will need an Internet connection and sound (we recommend using your computer’s audio and microphone, though a phone number will also be provided). Then, visit to ensure you are able to join a meeting. 

If you are not able to download the Zoom web client, you can still participate via your Internet browser. We recommend using Chrome for the best results. If you use your Internet browser, your functionality may be more limited (for example, you will only be able to see one video feed at a time), and you will need to create a Zoom account. (Account creation is a free and straightforward process, but you will want to do this in advance so you do not miss any part of the meeting).

Privacy and Security

The American Public Power Association takes your privacy and security very seriously. For this reason, we have put the following security measures in place for this course:

  • A random Meeting ID
  • Password-protected
  • Enabled waiting room to screen meeting participants
  • Restricted screen sharing to hosts only

Code of Conduct

Participants agree to abide by the APPA Code of Conduct. If participants engage in unacceptable behavior as outlined in the code, the Association may take any action it deems appropriate, including but not limited to, expulsion from the current and future meetings, with no warning or refund.


Contact us at [email protected].