By Robert Walter
As utilities modernize their customer interactions — adding apps and marketplaces and new payment options — the traditional home energy report can seem a bit antiquated. But rather than letting it fade away, one demand side management expert says the tool still has much to teach utilities about how to tweak customer decisions.
Home Energy Report programs are “the biggest, baddest behavioral programs out there right now,” Beth Fitzjarrald, senior research manager of customer energy solutions at E Source, told the audience of a webinar hosted last month by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy.
The utility consulting firm’s customers deliver 75% of the electricity and gas in North America, giving it a “pretty good big-picture overview of trends,” Fitzjarrald said. And a 2015 survey put hard numbers on the efficacy of residential behavioral programs.
Research published last year by the University of Chicago concluded price-based incentives are the most effective and consistent way to tweak customers’ energy use. Though that work also found some efficacy in non-price incentives, the Dartmouth conclusions are more stark. Years of utility behavioral-based savings speak for themselves, according to Fitzjarrald, adding that home energy reports target overall energy use rather than the peak reduction analyzed in the Dartmouth and University of Chicago studies. And going forward, the rollout of advanced metering (AMI) will allow for even more and targeted savings.
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