Rewarding Energy Efficiency: Getting Canadians into the Game

NRCan's Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) Social Innovation UnLab (SIU) is working with program colleagues and Carrot Insights to deliver an energy efficiency rewards pilot via the Carrot Rewards mobile app. Our hypothesis: Engaging Canadians on their smartphones and gamifying learning and action will improve awareness and adoption of energy-efficient behaviours. The pilot is delivering results and entering its third phase this year (2018).

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

An Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) program evaluation in 2015 recommended that OEE do a better job communicating and demonstrating the value of its energy efficiency tools and services, like ENERGY STAR and EnerGuide. Back then, the OEE relied a lot on the marketing efforts of stakeholders, partners, and its own efforts through NRCan's website and social media accounts to reach Canadians on energy efficiency. An opportunity emerged to reach Canadians in more personal and interactive ways.

Along with establishing ENERGY STAR Canada social media channels (Twitter and Facebook) and web content, the OEE wanted to test an approach that was targeted and two-way to have a better understanding of who we were engaging and their perspectives and experiences with energy. In 2016, the OEE established the Social Innovation UnLab (SIU) and one of its first missions was to launch a competitive Request for Proposals for service providers who could host a rewards pilot. Carrot Insights won the contract and our collaboration began.

Why Carrot Rewards?

As noted on its website, "Carrot Rewards is an AI-driven public engagement platform that leverages behavioural economics and nudge theory to motivate Canadians to make better everyday lifestyle choices. Carrot Rewards harnesses the power of the most popular consumer loyalty programs in Canada to maximize its appeal and user engagement. Carrot users earn their choice of Aeroplan® Miles, SCENE®Points, Petro-Points™, More Rewards® Points, Drop points or RBC Rewards each time they interact with the app. The Carrot platform was created in collaboration with public sector agencies, the three leading Canadian health NGOs and the private sector."

With Carrot, the OEE saw a partner that could:
1. Customize the app in collaboration with partners to reflect personal experiences with energy use and efficiency;
2. Create app content and deliver user interactions about energy use and efficiency;
3. Offer an engaging user experience with a variety of functional options to employ;
4. Collect and analyze data and report on the findings; and
5. Roll out the app across Canada and expand in collaboration with provinces, territories and other stakeholders.

The objectives of the pilot include: build and improve knowledge and understanding around energy-efficient practices; identify users’ current perceptions and practices relating to energy efficiency; and provide opportunities for Canadians to demonstrate and apply learning by practising energy efficient behaviours, like fuel efficient driving or home energy efficiency upgrades (aka retrofits).

Partnering with Carrot Insights has significantly improved the OEE's reach, particularly with Canadians in household living and driving contexts. The OEE has also expanded the reach of its social media channels and web content as a result of Carrot users demonstrating their desire to learn more about energy efficiency and its services and tools, like ENERGY STAR and EnerGuide.

OEE's use of Carrot is demonstrating our collaborative model in practice. Within the OEE, the SIU collaborates with program divisions, who have service expertise, content, web and social media channels, and outcomes that they are aiming to improve. We've also engaged other stakeholders beyond the OEE, like NRCan's Communications team and energy efficiency stakeholders (e.g. utilities and retailers) to explore ways of testing rewards to reduce energy demand directly and increase high efficiency product purchases.

New content is introduced each pilot phase that is informed by the previous phases' results. As the Carrot user base grows and partnerships emerge, the opportunity to scale more broadly and deeply exists. Carrot Rewards users have responded favourably to the energy efficiency content and rewards opportunities.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

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Year: 2016
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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