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Predict & Prescribe: Driving utility program adoption at the perfect moment

March 10, 2020

Thanks to a determined focus on energy efficiency over the last few decades, we turn lights off when we aren’t in the room, put a setback on our thermostat during the day and use home energy management to monitor our energy usage, all to help reduce our carbon footprint. Yet even with this heightened awareness around DIY energy efficiency, utility customers remain largely in the dark about their utility’s energy efficiency programs. Right now, energy efficiency programs are still largely siloed. They are promoted to customers as a one-size-fits-all program. The timing of these program promotions is based on the season, instead of when customers need it most. On top of this, since utilities are unable to get more visibility into customer behavior, these programs are promoted to every customer, making them costly to run.

But imagine if a utility could send the right message, about the right type of program, to someone who they know would benefit from that specific energy efficiency solution. The cost of the program would decrease, participation would skyrocket, and utilities could better invest those saved marketing dollars in another initiative. All they would need is a channel that has no competing noise, and the ability to target customers on an individualized level. And now, they do. A personalized, intelligent marketing tool, within the Powerley home energy management platform, is being implemented at utilities like DTE Energy and AEP Ohio – using home, energy and profile data to effectively promote efficiency programs to customers. And the results are spectacular!

Personalized, Intelligent, and Effective

What if you could automatically understand when a refrigerator was showing signs of needing replacement? How about if you could pinpoint which customers have the greatest need for a new air-conditioning unit? And, what if you could identify customers that consistently go over their energy budget? Think of the possibilities. You could introduce the right energy efficiency program, to the right customers, just when they need it most – anticipating their needs to drive greater program results.

Now, utilities are personalizing the conversation around their efficiency programs. And the key to all of this – data. By combining three types of household data, Powerley is creating an intelligent utility marketing engine. These data types include:

  • Real-Time Energy Data – Collecting whole-home energy data every 3 seconds to develop a base understanding of how much energy is being used throughout the home and when these spikes are occurring for each household.
  • Disaggregated Home and Energy Data – Reading real-time appliance and device energy signatures, our intelligent engine can then compare appliance and device energy usage in one home to what the norm should be, uncovering if a device or appliance isn’t functioning efficiently.
  • Behavioral Energy Data – Pinpointing what feature and how often each household engages in the Powerley platform, this intelligent marketing engine can then take into account the kind of efficiency programs to serve up to individuals.

Transforming these different energy signatures into a two-way conversation between utilities and their customers, Powerley is introducing utility energy efficiency programs at the optimal time and to the right people. These energy efficiency programs include:

  • Appliance Recycling Program – Using both hardware and software disaggregation, utilities were able to compare a refrigerator’s consumption to what a healthy refrigerator consumes. With a real-time view of the energy consumption of the refrigerator, Powerley can tell when the appliance is using more energy than usual and in need of repair or replacement.
  • Water Heater Rebate Program – Using the same method, utilities uncovered households that specifically had electric water heaters that were underperforming. Accessing their engaged user base within the app, utilities were able to deliver a rebate offer through the app at just the right time.
  • AC Tune-Up and Rebate Program – Utilizing HVAC disaggregation data, Powerley was able to identify previously engaged smart home energy management app users at utilities who had air-conditioning units that weren’t using energy efficiently. With that insight, the utilities were able to offer a $50 AC tune-up rebate and $400 AC replacement offers through the app to the right people.

Powerley has created a new channel to directly engage the customer right where they communicate most – their smartphone, engaging them 9X times per week on average. By tapping into these interactions the utilities have seen a doubling of enrollment in their programs – as promotions are reworked into personalized advice about home efficiency. Increasing traffic to these programs by as much as 150% and ramping up the click rates to 20%, utilities are seeing an amazing uptick in engagement. This is especially good when taking into consideration that the average click-through-rate for search ads in the energy and utility sector is only 1.56% (WordStream).

Together with utilities, Powerley is helping to create a holistic energy efficiency experience. Intelligently empowered and informed, utilities are creating a deeper connection with their customers through home and energy insights. While electrical generation and distribution have been the lifeblood of utilities, it is data that could become the utilities’ greatest asset in the future. And as utilities continue to foray into providing more smart home and energy experiences, these energy and home data insights that utilities are gaining have the opportunity not only to optimize the whole home, but other utility programs as well.

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