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Proactive & Empowered: Key Trends in Home Energy Management

July 27, 2020

The economic impact of COVID-19 has caused many households to examine their expenses including energy costs. With more consumers working from home and homebound, U.S. residential energy consumption increased by 12% in March and April. Faced with rising energy bills and added income pressures, many households are actively seeking proactive solutions to keep costs in check. 

Traditionally, most interactions between the utility and the customer have been reactive – occurring only when there is a billing issue or a power outage. While many utilities have extended financial assistance and support during the current crisis, energy management tools are still not widely available – leaving many households without a means to see when their energy spikes and stop bill surprises. Additionally, given the lack of mobile energy management tools, customer engagement remains low – amounting to approximately 20 minutes a year on average. However, some utilities, such as DTE Energy and AEP Ohio, have deployed home energy management solutions – enabling customers to proactively take charge of their energy usage. Through greater adoption of home energy management solutions, these utilities are driving:

  • Deeper Engagement – Delivering an average of 720 minutes per year – home energy management can deliver 36 times greater customer engagement than the typical utility does today. 
  • Higher Satisfaction – When utilities extend tools to help customers it elevates brand trust and can drive up customer satisfaction by 6%.
  • Greater Program Adoption – With over 100 million interactions through the Powerley platform, utilities are turning daily engagement into personalized conversations that prescribe the right utility programs to the right customer at the right time. 

Today, we see how energy management has become a lifeline, helping these utility customers make the most informed energy choices. Looking ahead, we see how utilities are tapping into this newfound level of engagement to expand the value proposition across the utility. Combining customer data with utility insights, we have identified three key trends that are driving the adoption of energy management – further highlighting how utilities are empowering customers with energy insight and control during times of hardship.  

Learn More 1. Home energy management demand is surging as customers seek to proactively manage energy

With more utility customers seeking to gain control over their energy costs, Powerley’s utility partners have witnessed a surge in the adoption of mobile home energy management solutions. The utilities that offer energy management solutions, such as DTE Energy and AEP Ohio, saw customer demand increase by 57% between March and May. In unison, engagement with energy management has tripled during this time as utility customers work to stop monthly bill surprises caused by changes in usage patterns.

Source: Powerley data 

2. Energy education, awareness and control are key to driving deeper engagement

Energy management has become a daily interaction, with users engaging on average 7 times per week across Powerley’s utility partner programs. Digging deeper into the customer experience, it appears that the uptick in engagement has been driven primarily by five key features – raising energy awareness, empowering customers with energy control, and enabling the automation of energy usage:  

  • Keeping tabs on their Energy Budget: More households are creating and tracking energy budgets – with usage increasing by 78%.
  • Extending Energy Management to the Smart Home: More customers are connecting smart devices, like thermostats, smart plugs and light bulbs – with attach rates increasing by 45%. 
  • Engaging with an Energy Advisor: Customers are seeking personalized advice to uncover and eliminate energy waste – with visits to Powerley Advisor increasing 34%.
  • Finding Room for Improvement: Customers are tracking how their actions are driving energy efficiency – with engagement in Energy Scores rising 30%.  
  • Keeping Track of Energy Usage: More customers are tracking their whole-home energy usage to watch for energy spikes – with engagement in Energy Visualizations increasing 20%.
Source: Powerley data 

3. The smart home is enabling greater energy control

With households actively seeking ways to take control of their electric bill, Powerley’s utility customers have witnessed higher smart device attach rates in recent months. More customers are connecting smart devices, like thermostats, smart plugs and light bulbs – with attach rates climbing 45% in March and April alone. 

With smart devices connected, utility customers are able to uncover energy waste – down to the appliance and device-level – while automating their homes to balance energy savings with personal comfort. This includes:

  • Checking their Always-on Load: According to Powerley data, devices like a cable box, gaming system, router and microwave have some of the highest always-on energy usage in the home. By using smart devices like plugs, customers can see how this always-on energy usage is adding to their bill and automate to save money.
  • Automating Efficiency: Not only are utility customers adding connected devices, they are also automating them as well – syncing device schedules with their own to balance energy efficiency with comfort while providing added peace-of-mind. 
  • Optimizing Energy Costs: By automating high energy use appliances and devices, like EVs, to charge when energy rates are at their lowest, customers are able to save more on electricity without disrupting their routine.

The current crisis has highlighted the need for greater energy awareness and control. Utilities have taken notice of the uptick in energy management adoption. With energy management driving daily customer interactions, Powerley’s utility partners are seeing an opportunity to apply energy management to deepen their value proposition. Now, home energy management is empowering customers to take greater control over their energy and finances – reducing bill surprises, decreasing financial pressures, and for some households, avoiding last resort situations, like collections. With a more engaged audience, utilities are aiming to provide customers with an end-to-end home energy management solution to holistically manage their energy needs – from access to real-time consumption and billing data to budgeting, rate advice, personalized insights, and payment options. The need is present. The customer is engaging. And now, utilities are responding by extending energy management across the utility to provide personalized and proactive insight and support for every customer.

Originally published on Utility Dive.

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